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The Fourth Industrial Revolution
Cover of The Fourth Industrial Revolution
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
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World-renowned economist Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, explains that we have an opportunity to shape the fourth industrial revolu­tion, which will fundamentally alter how we live and work.
Schwab argues that this revolution is different in scale, scope and complexity from any that have come before. Characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, the developments are affecting all disciplines, economies, industries and governments, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.
Artificial intelligence is already all around us, from supercomputers, drones and virtual assistants to 3D printing, DNA sequencing, smart thermostats, wear­able sensors and microchips smaller than a grain of sand. But this is just the beginning: nanomaterials 200 times stronger than steel and a million times thinner than a strand of hair and the first transplant of a 3D printed liver are already in development. Imagine "smart factories" in which global systems of manu­facturing are coordinated virtually, or implantable mobile phones made of biosynthetic materials.
The fourth industrial revolution, says Schwab, is more significant, and its ramifications more profound, than in any prior period of human history.

He outlines the key technologies driving this revolution and discusses the major impacts expected on government, business, civil society and individu­als. Schwab also offers bold ideas on how to harness these changes and shape a better future—one in which technology empowers people rather than replaces them; progress serves society rather than disrupts it; and in which innovators respect moral and ethical boundaries rather than cross them. We all have the opportunity to contribute to developing new frame­works that advance progress.
From the Hardcover edition.
World-renowned economist Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, explains that we have an opportunity to shape the fourth industrial revolu­tion, which will fundamentally alter how we live and work.
Schwab argues that this revolution is different in scale, scope and complexity from any that have come before. Characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, the developments are affecting all disciplines, economies, industries and governments, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.
Artificial intelligence is already all around us, from supercomputers, drones and virtual assistants to 3D printing, DNA sequencing, smart thermostats, wear­able sensors and microchips smaller than a grain of sand. But this is just the beginning: nanomaterials 200 times stronger than steel and a million times thinner than a strand of hair and the first transplant of a 3D printed liver are already in development. Imagine "smart factories" in which global systems of manu­facturing are coordinated virtually, or implantable mobile phones made of biosynthetic materials.
The fourth industrial revolution, says Schwab, is more significant, and its ramifications more profound, than in any prior period of human history.

He outlines the key technologies driving this revolution and discusses the major impacts expected on government, business, civil society and individu­als. Schwab also offers bold ideas on how to harness these changes and shape a better future—one in which technology empowers people rather than replaces them; progress serves society rather than disrupts it; and in which innovators respect moral and ethical boundaries rather than cross them. We all have the opportunity to contribute to developing new frame­works that advance progress.
From the Hardcover edition.
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  • From the book 1. The Fourth Industrial Revolution

    1.1 Historical Context

    The word “revolution” denotes abrupt and radical change. Revolutions have occurred throughout history when new technologies and novel ways of perceiving the world trigger a profound change in economic systems and social structures. Given that history is used as a frame of reference, the abruptness of these changes may take years to unfold.

    The first profound shift in our way of living—the transition from foraging to farming—happened around 10,000 years ago and was made possible by the domestication of animals. The agrarian revolution combined the efforts of animals with those of humans for the purpose of production, transportation and communication. Little by little, food production improved, spurring population growth and enabling larger human settlements. This eventually led to urbanization and the rise of cities.

    The agrarian revolution was followed by a series of industrial revolutions that began in the second half of the 18th century. These marked the transition from muscle power to mechanical power, evolving to where today, with the fourth industrial revolution, enhanced cognitive power is augmenting human production.

    The first industrial revolution spanned from about 1760 to around 1840. Triggered by the construction of railroads and the invention of the steam engine, it ushered in mechanical production. The second industrial revolution, which started in the late 19th century and into the early 20th century, made mass production possible, fostered by the advent of electricity and the assembly line. The third industrial revolution began in the 1960s. It is usually called the computer or digital revolution because it was catalyzed by the development of semiconductors, mainframe computing (1960s), personal computing (1970s and ’80s) and the internet (1990s).

    Mindful of the various definitions and academic arguments used to describe the first three industrial revolutions, I believe that today we are at the beginning of a fourth industrial revolution. It began at the turn of this century and builds on the digital revolution. It is characterized by a much more ubiquitous and mobile internet, by smaller and more powerful sensors that have become cheaper, and by artificial intelligence and machine learning.

    Digital technologies that have computer hardware, software and networks at their core are not new, but in a break with the third industrial revolution, they are becoming more sophisticated and integrated and are, as a result, transforming societies and the global economy. This is the reason why Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee have famously referred to this period as “the second machine age,”2 the title of their 2014 book, stating that the world is at an inflection point where the effect of these digital technologies will manifest with “full force” through automation and and the making of “unprecedented things.”

    In Germany, there are discussions about “Industry 4.0,” a term coined at the Hannover Fair in 2011 to describe how this will revolutionize the organization of global value chains. By enabling “smart factories,” the fourth industrial revolution creates a world in which virtual and physical systems of manufacturing globally cooperate with each other in a flexible way. This enables the absolute customization of products and the creation of new operating models.

    The fourth industrial revolution, however, is not only about smart and connected machines and systems. Its scope is much wider. Occurring...
About the Author-
  • PROFESSOR KLAUS SCHWAB is Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. In 1998, he created the Schwab Foun­dation for Social Entrepreneurship. Schwab holds doctorates in economics (summa cum laude) from the University of Fribourg and in engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and a Master in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He has received numerous international and national honors.
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  • Marc R. Benioff, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Salesforce, USA:
    "Only organizations driven by purpose and values will be fully able to shape and benefit from the seismic technological, social and economic transformations underway. Klaus Schwab compellingly outlines why all of us must work to ensure that the Fourth Industrial Revolution has at its heart the stakeholder principle, ensuring that the benefits of transformation are as much a public good as a private gain. This book is required reading for my entire leadership team."
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The Fourth Industrial Revolution
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
Klaus Schwab
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