Fourth Industrial Revolution



Evolution of social media
Future of government
Artificial intelligence
Digital transformation
Digital privacy
Virtual reality







As the Fourth Industrial Revolution transforms societies globally at an unprecedented pace, leaders from business, government and civil society will have to face many uncertainties. New technologies like drones, 3D printing, human augmentation and the Internet of Things clearly have a tremendous potential to disrupt existing industries and alter societal conventions. Prof Klaus Schwab, Founder of the World Economic Forum, asks how these technologies are changing our lives and that of future generations, and reshaping the economic, social, ecological and cultural contexts in which we live?

Although these topics have been intensively discussed in countless panel discussions and smaller councils, many open questions on the effects of these technologies remain. There is evidence to suggest that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is transforming entire systems of production, distribution and consumption, as well as education and healthcare. I wonder, however, whether the untrammelled evangelism for technological innovations may have obscured much of the nuance and uncertainty regarding the actual implications of such technologies. Wouldn't it be nice if, whenever a new technology is unleashed, it took only the most productive and benevolent forms? The Fourth Revolution will entail many implications – both good and evil, and society needs to be aware of all the possible repercussions of these technology trends.

In my research at the Oxford Internet Institute, I work on precisely these questions, looking at the way how new technologies are adopted and used, and the extent to which new technologies could exacerbate existing digital divides, leading to new forms of "techno-elitism", producing unintended problems for society. Will the Fourth Revolution create novel solutions or lead us to new terrifying realities? New ideas and new leadership will be required to address these issues and ensure fast and responsible decision-making that, as Prof Klaus Schwab explains, "works for all by putting people first, empowering them and constantly reminding ourselves that all of these new technologies are first and foremost tools made by people for people."

To paraphrase Chris Dancy, the allegedly most connected human on earth: Maybe we should stop trying to solve our human problems with technology, and instead try solving our technology problems with humanity.