This article is a submission for the Techsaucier of the Year 2018, written by Jing Meng Sum.
The fourth industrial revolution also known as industry 4.0 is bringing with it transformations to systems of production, management, and governance. With these developments, almost every industry in every country is being disrupted at an exponential rate never seen before and this brings with it changes to how economy is managed. Like the revolutions that came before, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has the capability to improve the quality of life of people all over the world as well as increasing worldwide income levels. However, we can be certain it will have a disruptive impact on employment though the scale of change is uncertain. (Aurik, 2017) Though in the future, talent more than capital will represent the critical factor of production, giving rise to a job market increasing split into two groups “low-skill/low-pay” and “high-skill/high-pay” jobs, potentially causing social tensions. (Schwab, 2016)
Photo: The Harvard Gazette
A major economic concern of the fourth industrial revolution is the inequality that arises from the segregated job segments. With increasing demand of high skilled workers and decreasing lower skilled workers, resulting in a job market with a strong demand at the both extremes leading to a hollowing out of the middle. This explains why many workers are fearful of their own incomes in the face of these changes. However with proper training, the workforce can be future ready instead of just prepared of what is needed now.
With artificial intelligence development at a more advanced stage and breakthroughs in autonomous vehicles, cars instead of being owned and parked 94% of the time, will no longer need to be owned by an individual but shared across multiple owners. The economies of countries that rely on manufacturing consumer vehicles or public transport sectors will take a hit or be destroyed as there will be a reduced reliance on cars. This will lead to disgruntled workers in these industries (Rankumar, 2017). However, this also brings with it benefits to countries such as Singapore as the number of vehicles on the road will be reduced and eases congestion as well as reduces the carbon footprint for the environment. Furthermore, Singapore is also a testing ground for many company’s research and development in this sector and are well positioned to make full use of the developments and shape future developments to incorporate these technologies and harness the full potential of the fourth industrial revolution. (Min, 2018)
Photo: System Concepts
With billions of people connected now by mobile devices, there are changes to demands of products and businesses are changing to adapt with new services. This is best seen with new companies that rely on these emerging industries, such as Uber starting the sharing economy for cars as well as investing heavily in unmanned vehicles researching. Another example would be how companies are introducing artificial intelligence to better tailor their products to customers through data mining. These breakthroughs will contribute to the global economy and change purchasing patterns of consumers in the years to come.
Blockchain is an emerging technology that has the potential to accelerate the transition to a circular economy, beyond being the foundation technology for cryptocurrency, blockchain has the power to transform supply chain across a variety of industries. Blockchain functions using an append only public ledger that is shared with all linked in to the network, due to this transparency and speed between parties, cross border trade as well as financial services will see a boost as it no longer relies on trust between the two parties. This has many applications for Singapore as adopting it will boost trade and financial services which are both a hub for.
Photo: Chief Executive
With all these evolving technologies, Singapore will have to adapt with many jobs being destroyed in the change to industry 4.0. The Singapore government has already started schemes such as Skills Future to retrain the workforce to better suite the changing job landscape, however this is dependent on correct forecasting of which industries are most at risk and where these workers can be reallocated. In the event of wrong forecasting there will be many out of a job and even more left in dying sectors with no viable path into other thriving sectors. However, the most important is that workers must acquire skills for new, value creating jobs as well as the education system must prepare students as part of a future ready workforce. (Chua, 2016)
Aurik, J. (2017, Febuary 10). The Straits Times. Retrieved from Look to history to prepare for an automated future
Chua, M. T. (2016, April 07). Ministry of Communications and Information. Retrieved from Industry 4.0 and Singapore manufacturing
Min, C. Y. (2018, January 13). The Straits Times. Retrieved from Singapore well positioned to gain from Industry 4.0
Rankumar, S. (2017, January 2). THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION AND THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY. Retrieved from Circle Economy
Schwab, K. (2016, January 14). The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond. Retrieved from World Economic Forum
This is a guest post by Jing Meng Sum student of Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore.