If you haven’t heard the term “fourth industrial revolution” before, get used to it, because chances are that this concept will dominate the public conversation in the years to come.
What Is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
You may already be familiar with the term “industrial revolution”, the ground-breaking process that began in 19th century England and ushered in the industrial age. Historians have identified in total three distinct industrial revolutions:
- 1st industrial revolution (18th to 19th centuries). Production transitions from artisanal methods to machines powered by water and steam.
- 2nd industrial revolution (19th to 20th centuries). The telegraph and the railroad accelerate communications and transportations, respectively.
- 3rd industrial revolution (late 20th century-today). Personal computers automate production and create a global network of instant communication (the internet).
The term “fourth industrial revolution” was coined in Germany and gained popularity thanks to a 2015 article by Klaus Schwab, executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.
But what is the fourth industrial revolution (or 4IR), exactly? While the previous revolutions altered our lives by accelerating certain processes (manufacture, transportation, and communication), the fundamental change brought about by the fourth industrial revolution is a fusion of the physical, digital, and biological spheres.
If this sounds too abstract, maybe a couple of examples can help you envision what the fourth industrial revolution looks like. Think of “smart” crops that activate irrigation automatically or let farmers know when they’re ready for harvest. Imagine being able to “print” any solid object, from a salt shaker to a house, using only your smartphone.
How to Take Advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution
The first step to taking advantage of the fourth industrial revolution is to be aware that it’s taking place, so you’re off to a good start! You may also want to keep an eye on the technologies that will define the 4IR:
- Artificial intelligence
- Virtual reality and augmented technology
- The internet of things
- 3-D printing
Gaining familiarity with these technologies, becoming a user when possible, and ultimately investing in them is a smart business decision that can put you and your organization at the forefront of a tidal wave of innovation that will change our world.
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About the Greater Riverside Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
At the Greater Riverside Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GRHCC), our core mission is supporting small businesses and economic development with advocacy, business referrals, marketing opportunities, training programs, student internships, and scholarships.