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The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Opportunities and Challenges


The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Opportunities and Challenges

If we are going to talk about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it is necessary to be exposed briefly to the stages that preceded this revolution. The First Industrial Revolution was based on the energy of water and steam engines to produce mechanics: the invention of James Watt, in 1775, contributed to the extension of industry in the 19th century from England to Europe and the United States, and the Second Industrial Revolution was based on electric power to create mass production, and this was the most important feature, which began in the early 20th century with the creations of Henry Ford in the production line.

Overall, by the end of the century. the Third Industrial Revolution began, where microelectronics and computer power appeared in the field of manufacturing and used electronics and information technology to automate production. Then the Fourth Industrial Revolution, based on the Third Industrial Revolution, began, characterized by a combination of techniques in which the lines overlap between the physical, digital, and biological fields, where robots took on the difficult and dangerous physical tasks in order to maintain the safety of the factory, the comfort of workers, and the quality of the product.

There are key advantages that we can see, which are not merely a prolongation of the Third Industrial Revolution, or an extension of it, but represent a fourth, distinct, inseparable access to the previous one. At the same time, however, it is also self-sufficient. It is true that previous industrial revolutions have liberated humanity from animal energy, made mass production possible, and achieved the digital capabilities of billions of people, but the Fourth Industrial Revolution is fundamentally different, characterized by a range of new technologies that combine the physical and biological world, and combine the digital world with the biological world. The three advantages of this revolution are the speed and complexity of it, the scope that extends to all walks of life and its fields, and then the impact of systems and their multiplicity. This revolution can radically change relations between states, companies, and societies, within and between each, and the speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent compared with the previous industrial revolutions. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is developing at a tremendous speed, and not linearly. Moreover, their successive developments disrupt almost every industry in every country, and the breadth and depth of these changes are witnessing the transformation of entire production systems, management, and governance.

Therefore, the need for a comprehensive approach to the development of the United Nations system is a key step in the process of achieving the millennium development goals. All of them will open up new markets and stimulate economic growth, as has already happened in the world of the digital economy, which has opened up new horizons, with its digital currencies and mining operations, such as Bitcoin, and the economic services of blockchain, and do not forget the applications and devices of Artificial Intelligence, whose emergence and development have marked a milestone in the history of mankind, and have made Man ask the question of himself – or as Tim Dunlop said: “If humans are no longer the smartest creatures on the planet, we  reimagine our lives.”

There are significant opportunities associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution that will necessarily arise from it, and will play a vital role in attracting foreign direct investment; the emergence of entirely new sectors will create thousands of opportunities for the workforce, but targeting and proactively promoting these sectors, at the local and international level, will attract investors early and inject additional financial resources into the global and Arab economy (in particular) which should be emphasized at this stage.

Perhaps the most important thing that the Fourth Revolution can impose on governments, in general, is to demand legislation commensurate with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, while the greatest burden on companies, institutions and research institutes is on the innovation side. Exiting from the past, via, for example, the new areas offered by 3D printers for design and production, and the programming of robots and smart systems, which, at the same time, will eliminate millions of traditional jobs existing around the world (such as drivers who will be replaced by self-driving cars, and low-skilled workers who will be replaced by robots) requires a delicate balancing act between the two sides. And to talk the rest.

Author : Manahel Thabet
Published October 30, 2020
Al Bayan Newspaper