No matter your age, you know about industrial revolutions.  Remember reading about the invention of the steam engine way back in 1784 and how it changed everything from transportation on land and sea to farming?   Remember learning about the invention of electricity in the 1870’s and how it transformed most homes (eventually) from candle and oil lamps to electric lamps?  How it allowed for telegraph..??  etc.?  Remember how in 1969 electronics changed everything? Electric adding machines taken over by computing machines, for example?

Those were the first three industrial revolutions.  These were changes so big that they changed EVERYTHING!

The First was a shift from the reliance on animals and human effort and biomass as primary energy sourses to the use of fossil fuels and mechanical power.  The Second brought major breakthroughs in a form of electricity distribution and power generation at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.  The Third began in the 1950’s with the development of digital systems which created new ways of generating, processing and sharing information.

Now, we are at the apex of the next, the FOURTH, Industrial Revolution.  It is called the “CYBER-PHYSICAL” Revolution.  It is about new capabilities for people and machines that are reliant on the previous revoltions but which will transform every aspect of society, just as the previous revolutions did.

As with all the previous revolutions,  these changes feel threatening and will be driven by the individual and collective choices of people to embrace them.   They are making communities that resist the changes more vulnerable, less resilient.

The revolution is the great disruptor.  It is both a negative force and a positive force.   Those who embrace and plan with it, will be resilient.

“IT” is HERE:

  • 2013 – More people in the world have access to a mobile phone than basic sanitation
  • 2013 – 14 of the top 30 brands are platform-oriented companies
  • 2015 – 1% of the population now owns half of all the wealth, 62 individuals controlled more assets that the poorer 3.6 billion people combined
  • 2016 – Only 5% of the US workforce, for example, is employed in industries today that did not exist at the turn of the 21st century.
  • 2017 – The types of jobs being created tend to require higher levels of education and specialized study.
  • 2018 – Automation of jobs will create more inequality because women and older persons do more low skills jobs


  • Unequal societies tend to be more violent, have more levels of mental illness, lower life expectancies and lower levels of trust.
  • The higher the percentage of low skilled workers in the society, the more vulnerable the society becomes, driving increased unemployment.
  • Digital platforms tend to give oversized rewards to a small number of products and services,  starving out local and small businesses.
  • Future jobs will require increased complex problem-solving, social and systems thinking skills

THE DIVIDE:   Will everyone truly be able to access, afford and enjoy these innovations?

All industrial revolutions create as well as destroy jobs.  Unfortunately, the early research is showing that the FOURTH Industrial Revolution is creating fewer positions (jobs).

What occupations are most vulnerable?

  • telemarketers
  • tax preparers
  • insurance appraisers, auto damage
  • sports officials
  • legal secretaries
  • hosts and hostesses, restaurant, lounge and coffee shop
  • real estate brokers
  • farm labor contractors
  • secretaries and legal assistants
  • medical assistants
  • couriers and messengers
  • factory workers

THE CHOICE:  What do we want these technologies to do for us?

The choice is ours.  To be resilient, we must embrace the possibilities.  We must ask that everyone focus on our people and our choices in developing these technologies. Resilient societies have plans in order to mitigate the negative effects on jobs, people, the economy.  They PLAN AHEAD.  They have a “ramp up  plan” to educate, retrain, retrench the people and embrace businesses that can grow with the technologies and infrastructure of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  They deliver the new skills, the new jobs just in time to meet the demands of the revolution.

The choice is for us as consumers, as citizens, as investors, as governors, as regulators to adopt and employ these technologies in daily life and address the disruptors with positive solutions for educating our people, for adapting our infrastructure (our place), for increasing our know-how, for organizing our homes, economy, and governance (organization) .

The opportunity is ours.

Source:  World Economic Forum  2018

Where shall we start?   Do we have the knowledge?  Do we have the growth mindset?

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