Beyond Emerging Technologies Are You Ready For The Disruption of The 4th Industrial Revolution
Welcome everyone. We’re at the dawn of a new age here with the industrial 4th revolution. I want to talk about things that you may have a little about maybe in a slightly different context and maybe some things you haven’t heard about. Frequently when we think about the 4th industrial revolution a lot of the times we’re talking about new technologies, emerging technologies, and that’s all certainly a key component of it. We also want to think about what is the impact of all of these changes and these technologies on business, jobs, and people.
Very frequently when we hear about these discussions we’re talking about technology and they’re very exciting. We’ll hear some talk of job disruptions and whether more jobs gain or loss. There’s very little talk about who’s going to lose a job or who’s going to gain a job, and the differences that happen there. The context even globally is a little different and we’ll get some of the impact there around the world. How does it impact people, the business, and you as an individual? We have concerns as individuals. How do we fit in during these changes? How do we move and adapt as individuals as a corporation? You adapt as you go forward. Sometimes companies will just look to hire new people with new technologies and let go of people with the previous technologies without training. There’s certainly lots of talk about. Workforce training and adoption by company, governments, and how much of that is happening and how much of it isn’t happening. At the end of the day, we all have our own concerns. We need to know where things are going and how to understand the impact.
I want to address some of these topics today. I’m certainly happy to take questions about all of it. It’s a huge topic and very rarely do people try to put all the pieces together and try to understand what all of the pieces are. I’ll try to go over that today.
What Is An Industrial Revolution?
An industrial revolution has several components to it. One part of it is new technologies. When we look back at all previous industrial revolutions, there are new technologies that are key components to it. But it’s just not just the technology because new technology is always being created. So, what separates one technology from another one? We’re always seeing disruptive technologies; one technology replacing another one but that hasn’t always made it an Industrial Revolution. There’s something that’s different about the technology that is changing during the Industrial Revolution from the different times that are in between.
I think one way to look at this is that a revolution results today in a complete disruption to the way that people live their lives, the way they work, the way businesses function, and the way the government operates. That’s one of the differences between an evolutionary technology change and a disruptive technology change. It’s changing the way things are done throughout all levels of society from the way the big picture works down to how you work. The other thing that makes the Industrial Revolution different is that every sector of the economy is broad and so that’s part of what’s making the disruptions happen. It’s not just one thing changing. Everything seems to be changing all at once.
The pandemic, our lives have been and businesses have been uprooted. We’re doing things very differently than we were even a year ago. In part, we’re able to do some of that because of the technology and growing over the past decade. We’ll only continue to accelerate in the future.
What Is The Fourth Industrial Revolution?
- Mechanization, water power, steam, power
- Mass Production, assembly line, electricity
- Computer and automation
- Cyber Physical System
- The integration of human beings and machines in a much more intimate and integrated way.
We talked about robots today. In 2021, the way we talk about robots for example is very different from the way we talked about robots in the 1970s and 1980s. Even before that because there were robots long before.
Exponential Thinking, Disruption, Tipping Point
One of the key components about disruption and what makes the Industrial Revolution revolutionary as opposed to evolutionary and why it can sneak up on us and why the changes can happen really fast. It looks like something is not growing very fast that will end up growing exponentially in the future to last for a long long time. If you think about artificial intelligence, people have been talking about artificial intelligence for a long time. It was science fiction or even then going on to the early days of the computer and getting computers to do things and kind of think about whereas we look at and where we are with artificial intelligence today. We’re still at the cusp of really implementing artificial intelligence systems in the corporate world. They’re expected to just grow again exponentially in the coming years as in technology increases. That’ll be a key component.
One other thing that works together with all of this is these technologies are not just being built by themselves. There’s a synergy of emerging technologies working together across the industries. You couldn’t have artificial intelligence like we have today without the massive increases in computing power that we have with these new chips as well as with cloud computing ability to access these massive computing infrastructure. We got the wireless technology that enables us to communicate.
If you just think for a moment about what’s involved with building a self driving car and how it has to work – it’s not just about the artificial intelligence that does that. It’s communicating to a network. There are other systems and whether it’s lasers to guide itself or some other system, there are other technologies that are all being integrated and brought together to create this kind of disruption. Then you have people who will think, how do I apply that with business to create disruptive businesses and to move on and you can think about what people are talking about today. One day you can see if you have a fleet of driverless cars that you can call on demand, there’s no reason for you to necessarily own a car. That may depend a little bit on where you live whether it’s in an urban area or a rural area. Everyone’s needs might be a little bit different. Still, the ability, game changing actions and business models that come from are remarkable. You can see an evolution such as a traditional taxi cab driver to where we have Uber where people can call and then there’s Lyft – other ride-sharing services like that, people can use an app on their phone to just call a car on demand. Eventually you have driverless cars and there’s no need for drivers to do that. So there you see a continuous disruption in its nature and evolution at the same time.
Let’s take a quick look here at some of the disruptive technologies and kind of what their potential impact is. This is a study that McKinsey Global Institute did a little while back discussing the monetary impact and how far into the future you might start seeing that. If we look at the Mobile Internet where we see one of the biggest opportunities. People today have work that they do that get automated and that can be good or not depending on what you’re doing. If you’re prepared for it, you learn how to adapt and be one of the people who is more productive in technology and therefore you can win with it.
It’s tremendous in all of these areas and they’re continuing to grow. We start to see a lot of these changes. You can start to see investing if you’re interested in that. You’ll see in stocks that these are areas that people are very much interested in. Energy storage is very popular these days as well as 3D printing is starting to become more popular. Energy whether its energy in gas or renewable energy, it’s starting to explode. That’s what you’re going to see this whole notion of energy and resources being a key component of any Industrial Revolution.
Water and steam power electricity; then we got this idea where we can move from fossil fuels to the store and electricity you know however that electricity is generated. So you can have that energy accessible at any time. That changes how power is distributed. You can generate your own energy in the home you live in such as solar wind that changes the solar distribution network and how that works. If you work in the power sector, these are things maybe not big enough today to be concerned about but the thing that people will need to be thinking about going forward. In some areas it is actually enough that way where people who generate their own electricity, it can actually be disruptive.
So these are all things that need to be addressed. Governments need to address these and how do we navigate away through them. Because these are difficult challenges to navigate through. There are a lot of complex issues and everything is so interconnected that even if there’s a disruption one place can affect it as a completely different area. Because of this, a business leader, you need to be aware of that also right so it’s not just who your competitors are and maybe what startups are coming up, they might be a competitive threat to you at some point but how can your business be impacted by something even in an adjacent industry. So these are things to think about.
Self-rated Likelihood of Job Automation, By Education Level
Just going back and looking at jobs because it’s a topic that everyone as individuals should be concerned about. How likely is it that you think that your new job is going to be automated? This was done by a survey of 1000 people just to see you know what people thought about.
This is what people think of themselves, how likely their job disrupts. It could be that the actual numbers could be different or distributed differently from this. It’s interesting to look at who thinks their job is going to be disrupted. Now if you were to match this up and started thinking what people are saying of jobs that need to be done. I would focus on this.
Here we look at trade, technical, and vocational training and people see that their jobs may be threatened by automation in the future. On the flipside of that, an awful lot of attention is being given to the need for people who have trade skills going forward. What we see here is that this particular example to me for work force retraining here is a group of people who know and believe that they have a high chance of losing their jobs. But at the same time there’s a high news forecast that demand for these skill sets. You can go ahead into the future. They’re just different. Skill sets that are needed in the future are different from the skill sets today. So how do you effectively and efficiently help people through that process. That’s a very important question to answer and to think about. It’s not just training itself because there are larger issues too about now such as age and the ability for them to learn new technologies. The willingness for employers to invest in someone for the future who is an older worker.
These are real concerns. How do we handle generational and demographic shifts as well as the investment in training skills for people? I don’t think a whole lot of people are really talking about in particular as workers ages, how do we get them back employed especially at a similar level or paying skill they were making before? On the white collar skills there are a couple of things we’ll look at in the past as seen as hot skills in 2015 and 2020 and further. How can we look at this a little differently today? What are the top skills? What you’ll see is a general trend towards technology and the stability about complex thinking and the ability to think through complex problems. How do you solve problems no matter what area you’re in that are likely to cross business functions so you can move forward and solve them? As we get more connected, as businesses are more intertwined with each other, as they – the technologies bring business processes more and more together, how are these things going to impact the business function.
One area we can think about this is something as basic as the accounting for a company. Even today the accounting system, IT, integration with the technology and accounting team to make things function. This informs the leadership about the company. As these technologies get more integrated directly with the sales team, production or distribution, partly you eliminate some of the people in between and things can happen much faster because computers are communicating with each other around this. Now you have technology intervening at the core of every function to a higher degree than before. But a disruption to any one of them, a problem that occurs can have a big ripple effect. Esp as expectation for speed, it doesn’t take much to have an automation get thrown off. You’re expecting something to happen almost instantly, it could take quite some time for it to be repaired and come back online.
Today we’ll see internet disruption, and it’ll take relatively a short amount of time to fix but it has a huge disruption on the business. This is something good to think about for your business, yourself, and your life. What’s different about how you’re doing your job today than 5 years ago? What about at home? How is it all different and how can I do this all going forward because it does take some time to learn new skills.
Robot Gender Gap
Who’s job gets disrupted more and what do we do about that? Where is it that men and women will be impacted differently? It depends on the types of jobs. What kinds of training is available? You can think about the lifestyle and lifestyle choices. We look at the pandemic today and we see the impact is significantly worse for women than men in terms of their job, career, and financial situation. Why is that? These are things we have to understand and dig into deeper. A lot of times you’ll hear about high level talk about this from business leaders and government officials. The important part is the details about what’s happening with people because you can’t come up with solutions for this without looking at the details. Who is being impacted? Why are they being impacted? What can we do about it?
I think fortunately, part of the 4th Industrial Revolution, we have the tools to be able to do that if we can ask the questions. Because many of these can be considered big data analysis. Look at the different groups and segments the different groups and see how they’re impacted and see what’s needed. You can’t just say we need more work training in this technology because that may not be appropriate. It may not be appropriate for that particular location to think about where you’re located. If you think about where you’re located in this world, the needs are different. The people who live in each area are different. The U.S. for example, just because you create 10000 jobs in one location, does it mean that there are 10,000 people there who have the skills for it? There may be 10,000 people somewhere else and they may not be aware of the job opportunities.
You know, there’s some need for increased coordination and awareness. How do we help businesses and people find the right places and clear the market? How do you get the right solutions? In any one individual, this is very difficult to you if you were to think about this just for yourself, the complexity to involve with all of these issues. It’s daunting. Especially if there’s no resource for you to go to, to find all these answers. Again, there needs to be a discussion about this and how do we bring about a level that makes a difference for the company and people itself? How are we going to do this? How do we fix this? How do we get people to be where they need to be?
Where Are Jobs Most Likely to be Replaced by Robots?
Let’s look at countries. Different countries are also less likely to be impacted by new technologies and that depends a lot on the type of work that’s done with them. Where you see lots of manual work happening that’s obviously a place where there’s more potential for automation. But again as we’re seen there’s also more places for automation even in professional work and more knowledge workers – information can be brought more to your fingertips than it’s ever been before.
Think about this for a moment, what happens when an entire country’s workforce is disrupted because of automation? What will happen to the people there? What will happen to society or how will it affect the neighboring countries? What’s happening around the world makes a difference. We see that in terrorism right? We care about what’s happening around the world because even if we feel like nothing’s going to happen to us it doesn’t mean that people aren’t going to be upset especially if they can’t take care of themselves and turn toward a different militant group. At the end of the day if you think about war historically, generally speaking there’s a lot of economic reasons behind it and economic disruption behind it. Usually somebody needs to get resources and grow and get better themselves or they’re struggling in society and looking to expand and stabilize themselves. Global political stability is something else we need to think about as we move forward with the 4th Industrial Revolution because how is that going to influence an entire nation’s social and economic structure. If it happens in one place, it’ll impact you in another way.
These charts here are about population and how they’re changing in different countries in the world. What’s on the top left country are looking at the demographics of Brazil. You can see the age distribution it’s mostly for the bulk of the ages are middle ages and younger. We can compare that to other countries. Now let’s look at the opposite corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo where there’s very few people growing older and there’s a very very young population that would be very large in the future. They will grow older. What are the problems that a younger population is going to have with all this destruction? Will they be better suited or will they be in a worst position to respond?
Look here in the bottom middle. This is Japan and look at the population. We all know Japan has an older population. The population will be shrinking overtime. Heavily emphasized on the older population, very few young people. What are the impacts on a society like that? Automation could help fill job openings in a place like Japan where there are fewer people who are in the working age group to care for older workers. You can think about other policy to open up for immiagration that might be a culturally difficult thing to do. If you have a lack of younger employees in Japan and you have more younger potential employees who are skilled in the Congo that’s something that should be looked at as a immigration something that should be like that.
These are just questions about how we handle all these things and there’s no clear right or wrong answer. We want to address it rather than just ignore it. How do you as a business leader do business? Do you locate your factories from Japan to Congo for example where there are workers? Is that more cost effective? New technologies that happen, because now you can have remote meetings on the other side of the world and you could ship goods very inexpensively on robotic ships that don’t have a crew. They just get loaded up and sent across the ocean. All things to think about.
Algorithms and Humarithms
Two different approaches to this. We think about algorithms which are very explicit. You’ve got verified data facts and they’re very stemmed focused. All these engineering technologies used in science, math that you can track and monitor these kinds of things can automate a lot of things because if you can do repetitive processes, there’s probably a way to automate that.
There’s another set that again I think would stem getting a lot of attention and it is humarithms. Humarithms think about the human side. What makes humans special? How do we take advantage of that? We see a lot of discussion on ethics and artificial intelligence these days. Google was just in the news about ethical issues they were having. What are the ethics of this? Not only how they’re implemented but also the impact they have on society? Is there some kind of obligation that companies have to help people move through these disruptions or is it up for everyone to figure out themselves and then we deal with the impact?
One of the important things about humaithms is prioritization by doing things that only matter, whereas algorithms can track and monitor everything that goes on. The Internet of Things, you can track everything about a system. If you think about all the sensors on an airplane, you’re tracking every little detail happening such as movement, speed, and what is happening and you’re looking for signs of potential trouble and weakness. You’ll get some sign of warning whether to get some sort of repair or in case there is a catastrophic failure. What went wrong and how can that be changed and adapted in the future? You have to monitor absolutely everything.
We also see that in smart cities and the evolution in smart cities for many things from monitoring how much water gets from the trees to traffic patterns to how people move. We can tell alot. All of this stuff that we’re looking at, tracking; what is important about it and what is just noise? Do we really care about this? What’s the truly important part so we can focus our time and money on this? What’s actually important and meaningful? We want to have an impact.
So this gets to things embodied cognition. We’re cognitive. We’re able to think: emotions, having sense about things, having that kind of meaning behind so there’s not just data. You can even think why is human life important? As we look at all the different disruptions that happen, what are the human questions we should be asking? How do we engage with each other? If we think back especially with the pandemic, we were reinventing a lot of society. You look at debates about if children should be in home or school, children shouldn’t be exposed to a virus. What’s important is how we monitor people and whether they’re healthy or not. What do we do with people who are not healthy? There’s a lot of judgement happening. There’s a lot of uncertainty. How do we use technology to make better decisions?
How Do You Navigate Disruption In The Workplace and Life?
We need to understand about our environment. The environment that we’re operating in as a business, as a leader, as an individual environment that we work in, it’s different for all of us. I can’t tell you literally what the environment is like. We are in an environment disruption and what that looks like for you is different for me. So what I do is helping others understand what they’re going through. What is our value? What is important to you? Jobs on a big scale, you care about jobs, you care about social order, and you care about people having their needs met. Now the question is, how do you go about doing that? These are questions that are answered by your values and it’s important for you to at least know what they are to make an informed decision.
What is your vision? What is your vision for society? What is your vision for your company? What is the kind of impact that you’re looking to have? Where are you going? You can say I’ve got this great big vision here; I believe we should have everyone taken care of, some needs need to be met. Well, why do you care about that? Why is that value there and why do you want to take that approach? It’s good to question that. Why do you have that viewpoint and what can be done about it? How can you help to improve that vision and achieve that vision? How do you get where you want to go? You’re using your talents, tools you have and how do you use it to create that impact? It’s important in times of difficult disruption, if those things change, if you get external things you can get, the technologies and those change skills that you have as an individual during a time of disruption, they need to change and adapt. Whatever you have that’s a gift or a talent change over time.
Countries even have particular strengths and weaknesses to it. How you take what you got to move forward to create the vision, the world you want to have and want people to live in. How does that change and impacted by technology? Look at what’s been happening on social media lately as an example, the impact of not just social media but how people use it. Sources of disinformation and how and why people that are using this information? If the government are behind this information, they have one purpose for it. Individuals might have a different purpose for using the exact same piece of information. So why? What is the purpose for it? What are you going to achieve? Thinking about how the struggles that government and businesses themselves have about how do you monitor that? How do you value free speech versus coordinated efforts to manipulate people? What’s the balance there?
A lot of times we have people shout at each other at the surface level. We need to have a more thoughtful and engaged approach to these issues. It’s all about finding the balance for it and understanding how it evolves going forward. If you think about how these things impact you for example laptops that’s one impact. People have smartphones that are accessible. They have access to information constantly. How does that change the dynamic about what happens? We have the ability to respond instantly. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? There are examples of both where you can have the ability to respond instantly and that’s helping needs. Whether that’s growing sales, talking to somebody through a crisis, etc. The technologies are there. But how do we choose to use them? How do we monitor them? How do we regulate them? There are a lot of topics that need to be thought about.
Unfortunately, governments don’t look at that. There’s so much change happening rapidly that no one person is an expert on all of it. So how can a government official possibly be aware of everything? It requires a lot of information gathering, a lot of people coming together to show actual information that’s happening. I think in one area where government officials fall down, they need to make the effort to understand what’s happening. We need to respond thoughtfully and with intention because that is what ultimately leads us to success. To not be thoughtful, not intentional – to be successful is all based on luck.
One of the quotes I like seeing is, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been,” by Wayne Gretzky. I think for the 4th Industrial Revolution, we need to think about: where do we want to be and how do we go there? It’s so easy to get trapped about how things have been done to be comfortable. Maybe there are business people who think, “Oh I just have to last long enough to be able to retire,” there are different thought processes.
Businesses and governments; it’s important to think about the future. This ties back with what companies need certain skill sets and companies with workers have those skill sets. There’s a lack of clear communication not only within an organization but outside of it about, “Okay we’re looking to build a business and here’s how we’re going to build it in 5 years.” We anticipate that the skill set we need 5 years from now will be X, Y, Z. So if you want to work with us in 5 years, please develop those skill sets. Now as an employee, I can come back and say I’d like to do that kind of work. Now let me take the time to develop the skill set necessary for that work. It could take several years especially if you are going to be learning these new skill sets after work. If you’re lucky you might get to learn them during work time.
Where do you want to be going? Where do you see yourself going? How are you going to get there? You know there’s going to be a lot of disruption along the way. Water rafting for example, you know where you want to go, your control over this specific pack to get there is limited. You have some control but not complete control. The water, the environment it’s pushing you all around so what you need to have is the skill set and confidence to push through that. You can adapt. There isn’t one unique path. There isn’t one best path. Meaning if there was one ability to execute that precise path, that would be very limited.
I’ll just close here and open for questions. This quote by Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times … it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us …” You have all of these contradictory statements. This statement was written in the 1800’s, you know, the Industrial Revolution where you had this tremendous opportunity in front of you but you also had all of this change and disruption happening. People’s lives were being uprooted. You get through it and everything is fine, but living through periods of disruption are a challenge.
I’ll just add one more point. People often think about how we’ve gotten through all these Industrial Revolutions; we’re all better off for it. True, but we rarely think about what it was like to live in the disruption of an Industrial Revolution. If you look at how long these Industrial Revolutions lasted, they were approximately 40 years. That’s probably the time of a working individual of somebody who came at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Your entire paradigm could’ve been disrupted. So think about somebody who came in at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution where we had apprentices and skilled craftsmen. Think about how Paul Revere. He was a skilled silversmith in Boston, Massachusetts in American history. There’s a process people went through to become a master craftsmen. You started out as an apprentice, learned the skills, spent your time honing in, and you worked for a master who taught you that. You worked hard day and night for that and eventually you’d go on to be skilled enough yourself where you can even open up your own business.
Work skills are passed on from one generation to another for a long time. Now come along a machine and let’s say you were someone who handcrafted spoons now there’s a machine that can stamp out spoons. Now if you are the master crafter who is about to retire that may not be as much of an issue for you. If you were the apprentice who was just starting out who was about to start his own business, where does that leave you? Even if you could work as a master craftsman in a short period of time, soon the machines will take over everything. How do you get through the rest of your working life?
The questions and the problems are different for all of us. That can be scaled up to a company level; how a company can evolve from what is good today? What will be good tomorrow? Think about an energy company. They’re calling themselves an energy company but they used to just be oil companies. They’re also thinking about how we can change and disrupt ourselves for the market of the future. The future can be incredibly bright for all of us but it can also be scary. An important thing I think for everyone whether you’re a government official, business leader, yourself, or family is, how do I fit into this? How do I adapt? What do I need to learn? How do I get where I need to be so that I can be successful for what I want in the future? I’ll leave it at that.