There is noise from the fourth industrial revolution all over the world, including India, but is this noise true?
At the Digital India Week that started in Gandhi Nagar on July 4, 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that today India can proudly say that we are leading the world towards the fourth industrial revolution. With this intervention by the Prime Minister, the debate on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) has begun once again. Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg) who designed the structure for the analysis of any industrial revolution Ian Mol was talking to Akshit Sangomala. Today we post excerpts from this conversation.
Do people living in the Industrial Revolution know?
The Industrial Revolution is an academic concept. Arnold Toynbee as a historian coined the term (1884) to give proper meaning to the changes of that period. No doubt, looking back to that period, people did not realize that they were living in an industrial revolution.
The Second Industrial Revolution was also a retrospective idea. William Stanley Jevons had this idea looking at the development of the system of craftsmen and machines for automated manufacturing. The idea of the Third Industrial Revolution arose in the latter part of the twentieth century, when digital computers made their presence felt in the world economy.
I do not think that a fundamental change is taking place at the moment, which can be said to be the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). It has begun as an ideological concept to revive the languid Third Industrial Revolution. The fourth industrial revolution is not happening, but people are discussing it. This had not happened in previous industrial revolutions.
While we may not call it 4IR, the sudden rise of technology is altering the way people work. What do you have to say about that?
The nature of technology is that it accelerates innovation issues. However, the current innovation cycle is not new. The relationship between machine intelligence and robots was prepared in 1980, though not before 1980.
I’m not saying that technology can’t disrupt the current economic process, but these processes have their roots in history and were established a long time ago. Ideology tells us that the revolution is in our hands and that is a total lie. Much emphasis has also been placed to some extent on the word disintegration.
The term was coined by the economic historian Joseph Schumpeter in the twentieth century and the idea behind the term was that forces arise in the midst of the economy, disintegrating the economy itself. It is an important notion from an economic point of view, but when it comes to relationships with people’s lifestyle, there is a problem with the term. In 2016, when Klaus Squab introduced the idea of 4IR to the world, social and economic theorist Jeremy Rifkin published an article denying the whole idea.
Did socioeconomic inequality increase or decrease in the Third Industrial Revolution?
Statistics show that socioeconomic inequality increased during the Third Industrial Revolution. In the last 10 years, there has been a huge increase in wealth within and between countries and, according to all economic data, it will increase even more in the times to come.
South Africa currently has the largest disparity between rich and poor than any other country in the world. This disparity will increase in the coming times. In the world of digital technology, technological innovations are controlled by the wealthy class and are taking advantage of them.
The World Economic Forum argues that while automation will lead to the loss of jobs in 4IR, new jobs related to information technology will also be created. If you look at some employment figures, you will find that more and more people are being forced to work in the services sector and these sectors are insecure and temporary. This type of unsafe work is increasing now and with the advent of 4IR technologies, this work will increase in the future.
There are some interesting points in a recent document from the International Labor Organization. The document states that most employed people around the world live below the poverty line. Most people who have a job do not benefit from these jobs. The sky gap is widening to the so-called 4IR.
The level at which we are talking about the technologies that join 4IR had never been heard of in the past. What do you think?
Once again I will say that it is by its nature to bring together the technologies of the industrial system and the economic system. The story told by the people associated with 4IR is that, for the first time, technologies come together in a spectacular way, but this has happened in previous industrial revolutions, and will always happen regardless of whether there is a revolution or not. They are.