Why Do We Need…Revolution 4.0?

Why Do We Need…Revolution 4.0?

Anthony Marris reveiws tech ideas, gadgets, and websites to tell you how they will help or hinder your life

Revolution 4.0 (which I will call Rev4.0) is the ménage a trois that connects robotics, the internet we use for shopping, streaming etc, and cloud computing. The aim of Rev4.0 is to create “smart factories”, a more intelligent (read efficient) means to manufacture goods. 

The “First Revolution” in the history of technology was the development of steam powered machinery. “The Second” was the adoption of electricity, and inventions like the aeroplane and nuclear power, and “The Third” the development of personal computers and the internet. Rev4.0 announces itself as the next massive leap in human technology. 

Rev4.0’s “smart factory” uses vast networks to analyse data to review market needs and global commodity trends to assess and change the level of production needed. On the micro level, the factory will be able to quickly compare input and output levels on the factory floor, track materials and goods from manufacturer to market, and build things with technology already used in development for smart cars, 3D printing, and robotics.

But care is needed. With a self-contained and more efficient workforce, what place is there for the human element? Humans need food, sleep, and social interaction. Robots and computer programs work until they break, can be upgraded, and do not need love. If we were to continue on the road of the “smart factory” then human labour will become redundent. The IBM computer Watson is capable of reading every single medical paper ever published and make a judgement call. No human can comprehend that much information. 

Larry Elliott of The Guardian notes three myths that need to be debunked about Rev4.0. The first is that impact of change will not be big. He argues the lack of a properly educated workforce is an issue. Even if we had a properly trained workforce, we will have a wide skill gap between humans and robots. To devote entire generations to learning an ever-changing growing field at the expense of understanding what we already know is foolish. But what would I know, I studied history. 

The second myth is that there will be economic advantages of machine based workforce if left to the market. Yeah Right. Cos we all know that trickledown economics works….not. Implement a system based on efficiency into a capitalist financial system and let us see which people are displaced.  

The third myth is that the new technology associated with the “smart factory” will allow for more time for leisure activities. Look around, we have replaced the time we saved from practical labour saving devices like the washing machine and spent it on mental masturbatory tasks to appease our fragile egos. We spend all our time looking at our crotches pretending to care about who slept with whom and “liking” the rubbish posted, rather than looking at and enjoying the world around us.  

To conclude, one of the few things that is preventing us from World War Beta (the robot uprising) are coders who seek out weak points in security systems. The total adoption of the “smart factory” is hindered by flaws in computer security and stable M2M (machine to machine) programs. If companies can’t guarantee their proprietary code and technology are protected, then there is no point in investing in this technology. So we need the likes of Anonymous and other coders to push, poke and prod computer security. Because if WWB kicks off, I am pretty sure Ctl-Alt-Del is not going to work. 

TL;DR - Revolution 4.0 is the goal of using our current technology to propel humanity into the future by outsourcing tasks to machines capable of analysing vast amounts of data from many sources. My fear is that we will code ourselves out of a job. 

This article first appeared in Issue 1, 2016.
Posted 12:48pm Sunday 28th February 2016 by Anthony Marris.