The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a term many may not yet be familiar with. But just like with previous technological breakthroughs, the implementation of 4IR technology, its effects, and many reforms associated with it will soon enough completely transform the world. Just like the discovery of electricity, motorised vehicles, and the internet radically changed the world in the 20th century, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is set to radically change humanity, as we move further into the 21st century.
To use some analogies, once mankind had widespread access to electricity and all the devices we could power with it, there was no turning back. Once we had cars, trucks, trains, and buses, there was no going back to horses or bullocks for transport. Once we had the internet, and all the convenience, access to information, and connectivity that it brought, the world was forever changed.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is also going to change the world. Very profoundly. Perhaps in ways many people cannot yet imagine.
So, what exactly is this Fourth Industrial Revolution?
Humankind is about to make rapid technological progress in a wide range of different fields. From the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI), to nanotechnology, to 5G technology, to self-driving vehicles (that may perhaps one day become airborne), to gene therapy, to Virtual Reality, to new stages of the internet (delivered at ever-higher speeds), to advances in food technology, health, product development, entertainment, weaponry, group psychology, and perhaps in many other areas, what’s ahead is likely to completely transform humanity.
One of the key factors driving 4IR has been the growth (and success) of the human population. But with global resources being finite, and concerns about pollution, and enormous amounts of rubbish and waste being produced under the current lassez-faire economic model, the impetus for change has become increasingly apparent.
The development of 4IR technologies will undoubtedly lead to substantial changes to our current way of life. The current model of mass production (and mass consumption), free trade and open borders is simply unsustainable and will almost certainly change. The rise of emerging “populism” and patriotic movements worldwide is also acting as a major facilitator of change. So too, is an ageing population, where the average lifespan (at least in the First World) has been increasing, and further medical and technological advancements will likely increase it further. So too, has the rise of the “tradwives” movement, where more and more women are beginning to see the value in themselves spending more time in the home looking after their families, rather than effectively competing with men in the workforce.
Some commentators believe that humankind may have culturally and scientifically “stagnated”. The actual number of new innovations in both popular culture and science have lessened now that we are in the 21st century. In fields like music, entertainment, dance, and fashion, there is often replication of old ideas, often repackaged. There is a view that Artificial Intelligence will be what takes humanity forward in many fields in the future.
It is inevitable that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will increasingly replace a lot of labour that is now performed by humans. This will prompt many changes and likely change societal and governmental attitudes toward work, leisure, education, spirituality, and in the West, lead to a restoration of more traditional gender roles. In the future, many people will work for less hours, and perhaps many will not work at all. Instead of relying on wages for income, many people will rely on other sources. The demand for a Universal Basic Income (UBI) will undoubtedly increase.
The demand for immigrant labour will also lessen greatly. For example, if humanity can produce self-driving vehicles more cheaply, there won’t be the same demand for all of those Indian taxi drivers!
The demand for women to spend as much time in the workforce as they do currently will likely lessen in the future. If governments make it attractive for women to produce and rear more children (as with what Hungary and Poland are doing currently), then other Western nations may also be able to lift their badly depleted white European birthrates.
Amongst other changes, it’s likely that customers may receive a lot more services at home, rather than contributing to increased traffic congestion in cities by visiting shops or customer stores. In the future, a lot more products, resources and services will likely be available online, as improving technology will make this happen. More people are likely to spend more time working from home also, as opposed to visiting workplaces.
Expect the field of education to also undergo a major overhaul. With Artificial Intelligence (AI) constantly replacing the demand for human labour in the future, mankind will simply not need to train so many humans for the workforce. With less people required to work in factories, we may expect that the one-size-fits-all factory-style industrial school system that has been in place in the West for over a hundred years will begin to evolve, so that it caters much more to the individual requirements of children. As more services become available online, expect homeschooling to play a much greater role in the future.
No doubt the global coronavirus scare will be used as an opportunity to bring about a range of economic, educational, social and technological reforms related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Economic models based on an erroneous belief in “exponential economic growth” are not likely to hold sway in the future. Instead, economic models will likely be based on sustainablity, and more on prioritising people, societies, and the environment, not merely on growing the GDP. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will help humanity to improve product quality, and to become much more efficient with resources. We’re effectively about to make a seismic shift from the Age of Industrial Capitalism into what may become known as “The Space Age”.
New models and new ideas will hopefully lessen humanity’s outdated belief in the capitalism vs socialism false dichotomy. The very recent trend toward deglobalisation will likely increase. It may well be that many nations may adopt protectionist economic policies again, as this may help to preserve cultural integrity, be more environmentally friendly, save resources, help to lessen pollution, lessen reliance on other nations and global trade, and help to keep jobs and industries “local”.
There is a view that with greater leisure time and less emphasis on materialism and material things, that the modern highly consumerist West may undergo something of a spiritual revival. Some of the new technology may change us in other ways as well. For example, the development of highly sophisticated sex robots may substantially reduce the demand for prostitution and pornography (whilst no one is necessarily advocating this, it’s a possible future development).
Laboratory-produced meat (already being increasingly produced and consumed in the USA) may eventually change human attitudes towards animals, and help to alleviate some of the concerns many people may have about animal cruelty, factory farming, and wastage and pollution issues. Many other foodstuffs may also be increasingly mass-produced in laboratories.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution promises a very different and challenging road ahead, whereby mankind crosses a threshold into a new era. The World Economic Forum (described by some as an elite “shadow” government organisation) has produced a video explaining some of the benefits of the coming Fourth Industrial Revolution.
No doubt the coming changes will raise many new concerns, many new ethical dilemmas, and cause many worries about the new technologies and how they may be used. How nations and communities govern themselves may evolve in new ways, especially with AI being introduced. The coming technological changes will give mankind greater power over nature, and over each other. With great power comes great responsibility, and as Lord Acton once famously (and very insightfully) noted “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
We’ve already seen with the global response to the COVID19 coronavirus how tempting it can be for those in power to overstep the mark, and to impose all kinds of unnecessary authoritarian controls on the common people.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution will give humanity much greater power to be creative, but also to be destructive. History has shown us that new technology can be enormously liberating for humanity, but in the wrong hands, it can be enslaving of us. The key factor may not be the amazing new technology in itself, but rather, WHO is controlling it, and HOW it is being utilised.
It’s been said that historical political struggles have always been in one way or another, a battle between “freedom versus slavery”. The future will undoubtedly present many new challenges in this regard. Societies like Australia, once very high-trust, have now become increasingly low-trust societies, and those in power will undoubtedly be tempted to impose greater police, legal, and surveillance controls.
This is why it’s imperative that the common people learn to tenaciously fight to defend and expand on fundamental freedoms like freedom of speech and religion, freedom of association and assembly, privacy rights, the right to self-defence, and the right to refuse medical treatment. Basically, if we don’t fight for our freedoms, we will probably lose them. Liberating humanity from debt-slavery (usury) may remain one of the greatest challenges.
Some will speculate that mankind is not psychologically ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its changes. If this is the case, we’d better get ready, because the changes are undoubtedly on the way, and we will need to adapt to them.
Originally published at the homepage of the Australian Protectionist Party.
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