A new smart world

Brace up for the fourth industrial revolution in human history

Dr Muhmmad Amin Malik
Srinagar, Publish Date: Sep 17 2018 10:43PM | Updated Date: Sep 17 2018 10:43PM
A new smart worldRepresentational Pic

The Scientific Revolution during 16th-17th century was a time of immense advancement in the fields of Mathematics, Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry, Biology etc that revolutionized the meaning of natural science. It was a radical break from the medieval worldview that laid the foundations for modern science as it exists today. The discovery of new knowledge, ideas and theories paved the way for the first Industrial Revolution in the history of mankind. This revolution shifted the agrarian and handicraft economy to the one dominated by machines and industries. The second Industrial Revolution brought electricity, electrical communication, automobile, aeroplanes etc and transformed the lives of the people further.

The 3rd Industrial Revolution started during 1950s with the growth of semiconductor industry producing transistors, microprocessors, integrated chips which boosted the growth of electronics, telecommunications and computers. The rapid advances in miniaturization, computing power and the use of Internet started information technology boom resulting in digital revolution.

Now we are on the cusp of a new Industrial Revolution “the fourth Industrial Revolution” that is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and interact with each other. In this new increasingly connected world the transformation will be unlike anything humans have ever experienced. The concept of ‘reality’ itself will undergo a serious reconsideration. The emerging technology breakthroughs in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, Nanotechnology, Biotechnology and Quantum Computing are already there and new advancements like The Internet of Things (IOT), 3D-printing, self-driving cars are appearing on the scene. Artificial Intelligence is no longer a futuristic concept and it is a matter of time that computers could become more intelligent than humans and we may be able to simulate human intelligence and interface it with the human brain. We have already entered the age of computer-chip-brain-implant and achieved preliminary success.This can be very helpful to boost intelligence and treating the people suffering from neurological and memory problems. The integration of AI and Robotics into consumer products is accelerating, as robots are demonstrating diverse and complex array of skills and capabilities. The advancements in AI and Robotics are expected to transform our lifestyles reducing repetitive tasks and eliminating age-old destable practices such as manual scavenging.

One of the most exciting and beautiful concepts in the 4th Industrial Revolution is the “Internet of Things (IOT)”. It is a new wave of connectivity beyond our laptops and smart-phones. It is about installing sensors (radio frequency, infrared, laser etc) on all potential objects and connecting them to the internet to achieve intelligent recognition, location, tracking, monitoring and management, thus merging the digital and the physical worlds. From a pin to an aereplane, having chips inserted in them, collecting and sharing data through wireless networks with the internet, adds a level of digital intelligence to the things that would otherwise be dumb. The Global Positioning System (GPS) and IOT form a usable set of interconnected data that can give you real-time information. The solution is underway to get the IOT sensors communicate among themselves to achieve location information that can replace GPS. IOT offers many opportunities like, to be more efficient in how we do things, making smart decisions and detecting possible problems. In a smart home we will be remotely monitored, managed and controlled by devices and we will carry out all mundane to the most complex activities with machines and experience all sorts of comports of life.  In a smart city concept, IOT can help us improving efficiency in transportation, waste management, air quality monitoring besides influencing business models that will save time, energy and emissions. The Govts will have to re-think how they deliver services and produce goods.

The Three-dimensional (3D) printing is an exciting innovation in technology that allows creating physical objects which were never thought of before. It is revolutionizing the printing industry and all sorts of items like tools, toys, jewelry, medical implants are being “printed out” through a process called “additive manufacturing” which uses less material than the traditional manufacturing methods. Just like an ink-jet printer, in 3D printing, computer software directs a design to build successive layers of plastic filaments or ceramics, slice by slice from the bottom-up and these layers then stick together to form a solid object. The traditional way of building a house, first by laying a plinth, constructing four walls and then adding a roof is time-consuming and expensive. Now with the help of this technology we can print houses according to our own needs and desires that would be sustainable, cost effective and done with less damage to the environment. Many companies from Russia, China, US and the Netherlands are on its way to print 3D-homes for the world’s homeless poor. The giant 3D- printers with a huge robotic arm having a nozzle that squirts out materials can extrude an entire four-room house in less than a day. The 3D printing has so many other applications in different fields like in the health sector which are being explored. As the technology becomes more widespread, customized manufacturing of products with micro-manufacturing plants on site will save energy, reduce logistic costs and emissions. 

The revolution will run much deeper and broader. New type of business will flourish, the factories will be embedded in smart cities and we will be integrating more and more possibilities to power our homes, offices and factories with our own renewable energy production and also sharing this energy in an “Energy Internet” just like we share information online. Now the big question arises, will this technological takeover render humans jobless or free their time for leisurely pursuits? History tells us a lot about the effect of machines on employment. It is said that Queen Elizabeth-I In 1580, refused a patent for a mechanical sewing machine because she feared that so many people would become unemployed. We may remember during 1980s big debates were going on whether the computers were going to snatch jobs and render people unemployed but the fact turned out that more jobs were actually created in the end. While technological advancements can definitely help people and modernize the society, it will never be enough to satisfy all human desires. It is certain that a shift in mindset will take place and the future works would look very different from the past and the workers have to be flexible and adaptable to different approaches.

With these technological innovations penetrating deep into our lives, the humanity may be able to solve its long pending issues in energy, human health, transportation, climate change etc. The rewards are staggering but its impact may be so fast and vast that its misuse may threaten the stability of whole life on earth. It will be for us to decide, whether to do good with the technology or not.





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