The fourth industrial revolution stands out from the previous ones thanks to the convergence and interaction between several technological advances. Forbes invites you to analyze the ten technological advances that are at the origin of the fourth industrial revolution. These advances will forever change the business world and the lives of billions of people.
Today, computers are everywhere: in our pockets, on our wrists, in our cars and even in our household appliances.
With the increase in processing power and the reduction in the size of microchips, the world has quickly become accustomed to computers and devices becoming smaller, lighter, cheaper, more powerful and more ubiquitous. For example, an average smartphone today is much more powerful than a supercomputer from ten years ago. The next big leap forward will likely come from quantum computers. These computers are so fast and so powerful that they could be used to accomplish new tasks, previously impossible and unachievable for traditional computers.
A connected and intelligent world
The Internet of Things (IoT) is well known to the general public thanks to devices such as smart televisions, connected watches or even smart thermostats. IoT refers to the increasing number of smart and connected devices or objects capable of collecting and transmitting data.
In the future, everything that can be connected will be. Not just in terms of devices and products (although this is essential for businesses), but also in terms of living and working spaces. From smart factories and offices to entire smart cities, everyday spaces will increasingly be equipped with the ability to monitor what is happening and act accordingly.
The “datafication” of the world
Ubiquitous computing and IoT are major contributors to the volume of data generated daily. However, alongside this machine-generated data, humans are also generating masses of data through various daily activities, and this phenomenon shows no signs of slowing down.
This is good news for businesses. Indeed, the latter can use this data to design best products and services, improve business processes, strengthen decision-making and even create new revenue streams. However, companies need to be aware of the risks posed by data, especially in terms of privacy and security.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
All of this data generated is essential windfall for AI. Over the past few years, AI has seen incredible advancements, especially with regard to “conversational AI”. In 2020 alone, smart speakers answered 100 billion voice commands, 75% more than in 2019 !
As interactions with machines become increasingly intelligent, customers will expect all of a company’s products and services to feature AI.
Extended Reality (extended realityXR)
XR is a generic term that brings together several immersive technologies: virtual realityaugmented reality and mixed reality.
Initially, the XR was primarily known for immersive gaming. However, currently it is being deployed in a wide range of industries where it is being used to create more immersive and personalized experiences for customers and employees. For example, customers can now try products virtually and employees can learn in an immersive and engaging way.
In the future, interactions will take place more in this blurry space between the real world and the digital world, and XR will only accelerate this change. Companies therefore need to start thinking about how they will adapt to this and create immersive experiences for their customers and employees.
The term “digital trust” essentially refers to the trust that users place in organizations to build a secure digital world, where transactions and interactions can take place safely and easily.
Many believe that blockchain and distributed ledger technology will play a pivotal role in improving digital trust and securing interactions. However, this technology still has a long way to go before it is truly accessible to all types of organizations. For many companies, the solution could lie in partnering with several innovators and entrepreneurs who work in the blockchain space.
Currently, all kinds of materials can be used for 3D printing : plastic, metal, powder, concrete, liquid, and even chocolate. Whole houses can now be 3D printed.
This technology could transform product manufacturing. In effect, 3D printing provides manufacturers with the ability to produce objects that are difficult to make with traditional methods. Additionally, it helps streamline the manufacturing process and create highly customized products (even completely one-of-a-kind pieces), while eliminating waste and reducing costs.
Gene editing and synthetic biology
Genome editing has a certain advantage when “bad” genes are detected, that is, genes that could endanger the health of an organism or its descendants. Thanks to new genomic rewriting technologies, these harmful characteristics can, in theory, be modified. Thus, genomic rewriting could make it possible to achieve considerable progress in the fight against human, animal and plant diseases.
While genome editing tools can be used to make slight changes to DNA, synthetic biology can assemble long strands of DNA and insert them into an organism. The recipient organism may thus behave differently or receive entirely new abilities.
What is the relationship with companies? The synthetic biology and genomic rewriting can radically change the way products are made. Take the example of exciting new products like cultured meat: it’s easy to see how revolutionary these technologies could be.
Nanotechnology and materials science
The Science of materials (the discipline of studying and manipulating materials) and nanotechnology (the science of controlling matter at the atomic or molecular level) have already made it possible to achieve incredible progress: tiny computer chips, smartphone screens, lithium-ion batteries or stain-resistant fabrics.
In the future, these technologies could lead to major breakthroughs in electric car batteries. They could also make solar energy more affordable and enable other advances that will make the world a better place.
New energy solutions
Nuclear fusion is often touted as the clean and (potentially) inexhaustible energy solution of the future, but there is a problem: sustaining a fusion reaction requires more energy than producing it! However, now, thanks to advances in magnet technology, we could see a nuclear fusion reactor delivering net power output by 2035.
L’green hydrogen (which differs from the traditional production of “grey hydrogen”) represents another interesting carbon-free energy alternative. Green hydrogen is made from a water electrolysis process using renewable electricity. Electrolysis is a process of decompensating water using an electric current. Originally, electrolysis required so much electricity that green hydrogen was a virtually unfeasible process. However, renewable electricity sources could be a game-changer. For example, excess renewable electricity available on the grid could, in theory, be used to power water electrolysis.
The main lesson to be drawn from all these advances is that the world is entering an era of continuous and rapid change, where several technological advances combine and feed off each other to bring about considerable change. For businesses, this means the days of incremental technology upgrades are over. Continuous change is the way of the future.
Article translated from Forbes US – Author: Bernard Marr
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