Fourth industrial revolution will lead to an era of connected cyber-physical systems. Sensors will feed the data from physical systems into the cloud and this information shall be shared with other connected cyber-physical systems. With the advent of the Internet of Things, the world has already started to become connected.According to a report by Gartner we are going to have around 26 billion connected devices by 2020. Countries such as Germany have already taken the lead by working towards building the world’s first automated and self-correcting manufacturing unit.The fourth industrial revolution if carried out rightly, will usher the world into an age of abundance , in which most of the world’s current social and environmental problems can be solved. Few examples below can help us understand exactly this age of abundance can be.
A connected world would mean a farmer in a remote village in India could automate his entire production process by placing the right sensors onto his field and crops. The data from the crops would then be fed to a central agricultural processing unit which would decide the next course of action for the farmer according to the data.The farmer could also receive alerts such as: such as “Storm approaching, shutting down the generator. Please cover your farm within 45 minutes.” or something such as “North west part of the land needs to be leveled” or “The irrigation generator will run out of fuel in 6 hours”.
This new age would also bring about a revolution in supply change management. For example, today we have to keep track of groceries and order online as when required. Imagine a world in which our order to the grocery stores would be made automatically as and when our resources get consumed in our houses. The grocery stores in turn can place orders for the fresh supply to the warehouses. Warehouses could then send relevant data to the intelligent manufacturing units which would alter their production process by instantly responding to the changes in consumer patterns in real time. We could only imagine how efficient that system could be. Supply and demand will always be balanced and we would seldom have to face the problem of oversupply or over demand.
Governance is another area where such cyber-physical systems can have a positive impact. For example, root level corruption in India is a huge impediment to the development agenda set up by the new highly visionary government. A recent report suggests only 35% of the amount set by the government actually reaches the beneficiaries, the rest is absorbed by the middle men. With programs such as UIDAI, India has already begun to digitize the human database of the country and hence root out the middle men.(More about this can be found on : https://uidai.gov.in/)
Self-driving cars, already a fancy of companies such as Google, Uber and Tesla, can solve the traffic problem of the world. These intelligent cars will know their surroundings and by 2050 we can imagine world’s first city with 50000 inhabitants and no traffic lights(according a report by the world economic forum). Healthcare will see new developments too. I would not be surprised to see robot doctors diagnose and perform surgeries. We can also envision the time when our toilets would do the most diagnosis for us by analyzing our waste. MOOCs such as Khan Academy ,Coursera are already revolutionizing education and soon take their services could be accessed even in the remote villages in Africa and Asia.
Rewards however, come with their own risks. In a future in which the entire economies are connected to the cloud, a threat of hacking would be the nightmare of any sane government. Cyber terrorism may take root and become more prevalent and dangerous than the kinds of terrorism we are facing now. Just imagine what would happen if some ill-minded person hacks into the network of the city of self-driving cars. If those cars malfunction, entire cities can be washed off in minutes. To realize a connected world, even the remotest areas should have the connectivity to the cloud.And for so many devices to be connected and to be able to talk to each other, a common communication protocol would be needed. Business models will have to be rethought and also the technologies should be affordable by even the poorest to be able to realize a truly connected world.
Well the risks mentioned above shouldn’t deter us though. Its evident, while developing such cyber-physical systems, security should be our top priority. Nations across the world should start working together for establishing a common communication protocol. To make these technologies affordable, world must come together and use the tools of financial engineering to support the efforts of those who are working for us towards a better future. These same tools such as CDO , CDS wrecked a havoc in the world through 2008 crisis. But we must understand that the crisis took place not because these tools were faulty, but because these tools worked too well.As far as connectivity is concerned, projects such as Internet.org and Google loon are already working to connect the world as well as possible.
Thus we have seen that the fourth industrial revolution has already begun and soon will take a full form.Though it is poised to bring more risks into the world, the rewards are much greater and the world of abundance is waiting for us.