The Advent of the Fifth Industrial Revolution

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In early civilization, the transition took place in Homo Sapiens' lifestyle from Nomadic to Neolithic, which means from ‘hunting and gathering’ to ‘agriculture and settlement’. They started embracing the domestication of plants and animals, which is considered as the first agricultural revolution. This change in lifestyle laid the foundation of religious, social, and political ideologies and structures. Depersonalized systems of knowledge such as writing, sharing, arts and architecture, division of labour, trade, etc. started to get established.

The first industrial revolution witnessed mechanization, which is mainly attributed to the invention of the steam engine, and lead to the shift in the focus from agriculture to manufacturing. It is believed that this phase of the industrial revolution started in the year 1784 when they used water and steam power to develop mechanized factories for production of chemicals, iron, coal, yarn, and clothes.

The second industrial revolution, which is also known as the Technological Revolution, is mainly credited to electrical energy and telephone. This phase started in the year 1870, by rapid industrialization and standardization to develop, railroad and telephone networks, water and gas supply, large-scale production of iron and steel, use of petroleum, internal combustion engines, automobiles, radio, and television. These developments lead to an unprecedented movement of people, ideas, and integration of economies.

The third industrial revolution started from the year 1969 and is associated with the emergence of electronics, automation, computers and information technology. This phase introduced semiconductors, personal and mainframe computers, and the internet as a digital revolution. This pervasive digital technology drastically disrupted industries by automating their production and supply chain globally.

The fourth and current industrial revolution, which started from the year 2010, centered around digitalization, robotics, and machine learning. It is not only transforming industry but also people’s life and work. In this phase, manufacturing technologies and processes are including cyber-physical systems, Internet of Things, Industrial Internet of Things, cloud computing, cognitive computing, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, smart sensors, 3D printing, augmented reality, advanced human-machine interface, etc.

The two interesting facts worth highlighting from these four industrial revolutions are, successive industrial revolutions have taken lesser time to happen, and its crusade is shown below



These industrial revolutions also brought the concept of industrial capitalism, factory system and more complex division of labour. In the early 19th century, industrialised Britain started relaxing its protectionist approach to capture the global market through free-trade. And then gradually, capitalism was carried across the world in the name of Globalization. Now, what we are experiencing is brazen capitalism at a global level, dominated by industrialized nations. There is no real respect shown by the states and statesmen for human values, peace, health, environment and natural resources over the creation of wealth.

Nature was alarming us in the form of global warming and extreme weather conditions due to environmental degradation, but we kept on ignoring it for quite some time. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic broke the boundaries of states and diminished the differences between the rich and the poor. It reminds the Sapiens that what really matters are 'human values' and 'Co-existence with Nature' over capitalism across the globe. Now after a decade of the fourth industrial revolution, author foresees the advent of fifth, which will start latest by the year 2022, and will certainly force us to take a pause on growing voracity of capitalism and start focusing on 17 Sustainable Development Goals of United Nations, which 195 countries have already agreed to achieve by 2030.   




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