4IR: Evolution or revolution?

The awesome power of 4IR technology has the potential to control or to liberate, depending on whether technology is placed at the center of society or society at...

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Published by Malay Mail, Malaysiakini, The Star, The Star, The Malaysian Reserve & The Sun Daily, image from Malaysiakini.

The thing to do in any good poker game is to find the “mark.” If you don’t know who the mark is, then it’s probably you.

Figuring out the what the “revolution” is in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is a bit like that. Is it AI, blockchain, crypto, IoT, robotics, or what exactly?

In fact, it is the cumulative effect. Any one of those technologies can be viewed as evolutionary, perhaps, on a stand-alone basis; together their impact is revolutionary.

Don’t be fooled either by the notion that it’s a long way off. Think of it it like this: by the time you hear the thunder, it’s too late to stop the lightning.

The golden rule of the informational age of personal computing and the internet is Moore’s Law, which states the speed of processing power will double every two years.

4IR tech will make Moore’s Law look like a walk in the park. The quantum acceleration of analytics combined with the ubiquity of connectivity will structurally change the concept and utility of data — ergo the ensuing “digital age” of 4IR.

When every physical object and individual action can be digitized, monitored, stored and analysed, then is it an evolution or revolution?

Now, how about this: When the outcome allows you to not just interpret but also replicate and predict objects and actions, then please tell me what is it?

This is 4IR. It’s neither a marketing gimmick nor highfalutin jargon. It is a catch-all term for this change in the human experience.

The awesome power of 4IR technology has the potential to control or to liberate, depending on whether technology is placed at the center of society or society at the centre of technology.

By advocating for the latter, we have added another catchy term to our lingo: Malaysia 5.0 — inspired by Japan’s Society 5.0 — the goal of which is to implement 4IR tech evenly across society so that the benefits accrue to all and not just the chosen few.

That sure sounds to me like the stuff revolutions are made of.

Dr. Rais Hussin is President & CEO of EMIR Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.

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