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Are people and the planet too dependent on digitization?

The emergence of new technologies is what defines an industrial revolution.

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Are people and the planet too dependent on digitization?

The emergence of new technologies is what defines an industrial revolution. These technologies drive profound changes in society and the economy. The first industrial revolution saw the rise of steam engines in industrialized nations to automate production. The second industrial revolution was defined by the internal combustion engine, and transport infrastructure.

Due to global peak oil and the threat of climate change, we are now living in the end of the fossil-fuel era. Public policies and private companies have begun a process of energy transition, with huge investments in renewable energy and electric mobility.

Computer science and electronics were used to automate production in the Third Industrial Revolution. In developed countries, postmodernization, or computerization, of production has occurred since the 1970s. This was accompanied by the shift of jobs from the industry to the service sector.

Klaus Schwab is the founder and CEO at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The Fourth Industrial Revolution builds upon the digital revolution. It's characterized by a fusion technology that blurs the lines between the biological, digital, and physical spheres. Future production will consist of modular, efficient, and automated manufacturing systems.

Commonly, the terms Industry 4.0 and Fourth Industrial Revolution are used interchangeably. Industry 4.0 was first introduced at the Hannover Messe in 2011. It describes how technology will transform the organization of global value chain organizations. It was an idea to develop a new German economic policy that is based on high-tech strategies.

Below are the changes that Industry 4.0 has brought about:

* Short periods in product development. Reduced development and innovation times

* Individualization of orders. A seller's market becomes a buyer's market. Buyers can then define the terms of the product.

* Flexibility. The agile new methods change the way you plan for small iterations.

* Decentralization. In order to meet the new demands, it is necessary to make decisions faster. Organizational hierarchies must be reduced by self-organizing teams.

* Efficiency of resources. Industrial response must be focused on sustainability to reduce the environmental impact of economic activity.

This new ecosystem has many possibilities thanks to technological advancements in emerging fields like artificial intelligence, robotics (IoT), big-data, blockchain, cloud computing and autonomous vehicles.

Humanity must overcome real dangers in the next few years. These lines are being drawn as governments, businesses, and citizens all focus on reducing the effects of covid-19. In reality, however, this problem is an addition to an earlier problematic scheme that included climate change, the crisis in resources, and the loss of biodiversity.

This is a problematic line and, compared to high tech models, many researchers have demonstrated that efficiency improvements have not allowed for reductions in resource use.

Despite the promotion of dematerializing theses by the information economy the loss biodiversity is an aspect of economic growth.

While it is possible to decouple economic growth from biodiversity loss, it seems unlikely that this "decoupling", in the near future, will happen. This would require significant changes in the economic system.

Even though evidence shows that growth is necessary for prosperity, it is not possible to achieve high levels of social wellbeing without growth. This is why economic growth cannot be substituted for growth.

Another example of technology's impact is the material requirements for the "new economic." A group of minerals called rare earths plays a crucial role in the production of many electronic devices because of their natural properties.

Certain types of minerals are required for the production of complex circuits, batteries, or panels. These include neodymium magnets and praseodymium. In the next few years, there will be a greater demand for them all. These reserves are almost synonymous with environmental disaster.

Computer transformations and software's evolutionary nature have made it possible to implement agile methods. New forms of business organization have been created by agile methodologies. Agile culture replaces planning and anticipation with flexibility.

Agility emphasizes the importance of simplicity and functionality. Agility is open to changes even when there is extensive documentation.

Companies can adapt to changing market conditions by using this new method. It is possible for an organization to quickly respond to market demands because of its agility.

The culture of agility paints a picture that reflects a constantly changing workforce, adapting to new opportunities and staying ahead in the market. This new imperative requires us to remain alert and disciplined when faced with opportunities. It is now a must to reflect on the obsolescence and decline of the human at the time of fourth industrial revolution. These ideas are effective for business intelligence. But how humane is that?

The fourth industrial revolution presents a hazy scenario for both the sustainable development of the environment and the goals of economic equality or quality of work. There is an anthropological problem in the background that makes it difficult for us to reconcile the increasing power of technology and the fragile and imperfect nature of human beings. Anders says that we live in an era of "embarrassed ethnocentrism."

This article was published in "The Conversation".

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