Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: A few Musings.

I found this article today. I'd recommend taking the time to digest it...

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond

 A very well written article, which examines many facets and possibilities for the future due to advancing technology. Worth the time to read and consider.

The author doesn't go into it quite as much, but mentions 3D printing and the integration of Biology and Technology. One point I find myself considering in this area, which he comes to the edges of in this article...

What will happen to the large businesses and governments of the world? There are now 3D printers for Plastics, Metals, Fabrics and even some biologics. And some effort is being made to construct said printers in a way which allows the various printer parts to be replicated on the printers. Suddenly, not only can the digital world be copied, duplicated infinitely for virtual no cost, so can the physical world. Anyone, ANYONE, with a clever idea could have the potential to produce it.

Can't afford some new toy, some new tools, some new gadget? Design your own and print it yourself.

Much of the massive cost associated with medical devices and drugs is due to the heavy burden of government regulation. What if you are manufacturing your own device or drug for personal use?

But what then happens to big businesses? Will their revenue streams dry up? Will they be able to adapt to a new, decentralized economy? Or will they try desperately to protect themselves through government regulation?

What happens to the world of intellectual property? How will intellectual property be defined in this new world? Will Apple, for instance have to run around suing individual consumers for owning a home made rectangular device with rounded corners that is roughly the same size and shape as an i-something and runs similar programs? Would they be able to win those cases? Would they be able to be profitable?

The Music industry has been something of a precursor to this - Music is now mostly, and may one day soon become exclusively a digital medium. For the past decade or so, we have watched the music industry desperately cling to the good old days. Touting out Metallica to cry about how poor they are because everyone steals their music, Sending their army of lawyers out to sue twelve year old girls for sharing music. They even tried loading spyware on music CD's, and they continue to fiddle around with DRM, and protective legislation. They roam around issuing take-down orders to youtube in a last desperate effort to stem the flow. In a less stupid direction, they have begun to embrace cloud subscription services, making it so convenient to rent access to music, that it is frankly to inconvenient for many to "steal" it. Some artists have left the old music industry behind, acting as their own label, producer, and distributor. Cutting out all the middle men saves them a great deal. And so long as they have sufficiently rabid fans who will choose to willingly pay for their product, they can be very successful.

The final line of defense for most of these large, slow moving behemoths will likely be government regulation.They will try to turn to the Government to write better protection for intellectual property, perhaps event try to prohibit the self-production of certain items. But how can the government control and enforce this? Will the government recognize that there role is going to shrink, or will they too desperately cling to the old way, desperately try to hold on to illusory power?

There is a brave new world coming, one that will require a world of individuals to be alert, forgiving, kind, cooperative, engaged, charitable... willing to negotiate, seek compromise, and stand together. If we do, amazing things will happen. If we don't...


  1. There are so many amazing possibilities just around the corner with the advance of technology that can be considered. In Healthcare, you will have the ability to monitor your own vitals, blood sugar levels, test for microbes etc. Healthcare will be handled like service on your car thus improving efficacy in healthcare (go see the doctor when the engine light comes on).

    It will disrupt Brick and Mortar retail where consumers will use VR to try on on that next piece of clothing in their perfect measured size and instantly purchase for delivery.

    Transparency in Governments is positive side effect of loss of privacy due to a more connected world. When people have micro attachments and devices that can record and see everything, augmented reality where they can know what (or who) they are looking at with facial recognition and anyone at anytime could be recording. (Its like the saying "an armed society is a polite society", likewise a fully connected society is a more civil society?). It will become harder for the nefarious to hide their misdeeds and it will encourage others to check their behaviors with the bad side effect of self censorship, however it may advance critical thinking as people don't jump to abusive pontificating in fear of it coming back on them and will choose to think about how they communicate with others.

    Perhaps our more primitive part of our brains will finally lose some of their dominance over our frontal cortex and generations from now a more thoughtful and logical humanity will arise? (This is the optimistic futurist in me of course as it introduces many dangers we need to remain vigilant against)

    1. Lots of change. But it can be change for the better. Just up to us. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!