Per definition ‘4th industrial revolution’ means a tighter connection between information technology and automation, as well as a deeper penetration of process automation. In a bit more generally, the 4th industrial revolution forecasts that the tools connecting to the internet will form a large intelligent system, which will be driven by artificial intelligence. This trend will change not just the industrial production but also the agriculture and the service sector.

What should I do with it?

Firstly, we need to know that this trend – independently from us – has already started. The number of IoT devices (things connected to the net) numbered as many as 20 billion in 2017 and will reach the 75 billion milestone by 2025. Considering the 7.6 billion current population of Earth and the estimated 8.2 billion population by 2025, this means 2.5 tools per human being recently, and 9 per human being in the near future (not forgetting about the additional impact caused by the geographical inhomogeneity). It is unquestionable that smart things connected to the web will sooner or later connect to each other and will form such a gigantic system, through which terabytes and yottabytes (1024) of data will be transported and stored. Obviously all activities in this huge network that can be determined and described by algorithms will be driven by systems connecting to the network and will be carried out by robots connected to the network as well. This process will surely reach us, regardless if we want or not.


What is our place in this new system?  

One of our possible reactions can be to live in this new system, letting it reach and embrace us, enjoying all its’ benefits, not going into deeper details of it. However, similar to the earlier revolutions that swept away lots of existing activities, this procedure may sweep away many or all our activities that are possible to get automated and can be carried out without human contribution. If it actually happens, we will become the victims of Industry 4.0. The other option is to become an active player and influencer of the whole procedure, ensuring that we will have place, role and task in this brave new digital world. It is our decision which of the above options we chose.


What to do to be active participants instead of victims of Industry 4.0?

There is no single correct answer to this question. We ourselves need to find our own answer, our own way. Firstly, let us look around to see what we are doing now, how we are making our living, in what territories we are being, moving and acting. Let us think over how these can change in the future. In the future when we will live in smart cities, supported by avatars and robots driven by artificial intelligence. We should also think over – not only as individuals but as members of families, communities and societies, what we want to work, how we want to make our living, what our roles and tasks will be in this new world. Let us analyze if there is any activity in our lives that generates value without a potential automation and replacement by machines (either due to intellectual or emotional reasons). Let us think over what activities we can retain and what will be taken away by machines.

And how to proceed now?

This is the most difficult question to answer. The answer is definitely not that all of us should start to research artificial intelligence. Neither all we need to get experiences in IT development. However, everybody must be more open and more undiscriminating towards the outside world, the changes around us. We need to prepare in soul and body to think according to new paradigm, to pick up the pace and to get switched into the new world. We need to prepare to modify our lives, works, businesses in a way that they will fit the drift of the Industry 4.0 so that we can find our places in the new world not just as survivors but as active players and influencers. We need to prepare since the drift will be fast, rolling and terrific like a flood when it will actually reach us. Similar to those who prepare and thereby can survive the catastrophes, we also can survive and influence this huge change with appropriate preparation.

Of course we can pre-empt the whole procedure as much as possible. We can search for places, ways, methods, forums with which we can monitor the development of Industry 4.0. We can learn about it via smart city/village initiatives, development of our entrepreneurship or automation of our homes. This way we can keep the pace with the whole change process.

And one more thing we can do: we can think and act also in family, community and society helping others also to participate. If we help our children, people around us to prepare, they also can become active players and trend setters of Industry 4.0 world.

Gergely Gál, senior consultant, project leader, Vialto Consulting


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