A day will come when human beings forbid us from driving. At the present time it may seem crazy, but the truth is that Artificial Intelligence does not get tired, make fewer mistakes and is not distracted at the wheel. A first step will be taken in the coming years with the incorporation of autonomous cars. The second step, not allowing human driving, is closer than we think.
All these changes are a consequence of Industry 4.0 or 4th Industrial Revolution, the new digital model in which we are immersed and which was coined in Germany in 2014 as a result of the German government’s high-tech strategy. They defined six strategic fields: the economy and digital society; the economy and sustainable energy; an innovative work environment; the healthy life; smart mobility; and civil security.
Industry 4.0 is generating abundance of data, content and information, which are the fuel of this new era, and we have to be prepared to manage it efficiently for the benefit of whole people.
The 4th Industrial Revolution is a new paradigm, a new model change. It is commonly associated with Digital Transformation. I like to associate it more with Continuous Transformation.
If we look back, we can see that industrial revolutions have been spacing less and less in time. Between the first and second, a century and a half had to pass; between the second and third, a century; but between the third and fourth industrial revolution, not even half a century has elapsed.
In all of them the basis of progress has been closely related to the advancement of technology. We use existing technologies to create future technologies but, today, there are some peculiarities that did not exist before: technology grows exponentially in an unstoppable way and the consequence is that the world is hyperconnected (all the information is within our reach and, therefore, we can compete without leaving home).
If we add a third to these two factors, which is the growth of the world population – 4 billion more people in the world in the next decade – we have a tsunami that is causing the acceleration of the current model.
This industrial revolution produces and converts data into intelligence to help in decision making and create new business models. The FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) are a clear example of this, along with other emerging ones like the Chinese company ByteDance.
All these companies, Industry 4.0 itself, are customer centric (customer-centric, in industry), but valuing technology as a business. This, as in all previous revolutions, has its positive direct effects and other negative collaterals (loss of privacy, greater inequality, polarization of markets). The negatives, you need to have them under control, so a continuous transformation alone is not enough for sustainable development.
The technologies of this 4th Industrial Revolution – Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Big Data, Blockchain – are getting, and will get even more, not only an impact on business models, globalization, sectors or labor market but also, being the most relevant, about people.
Keep in mind that there will be gaps in both education and innovation. And we must be prepared to face this challenge. In this fourth industrial revolution, of the social dimension and its challenges, little is said.
As a result of this concern, along with other individuals but common to many of the world’s economies such as population aging, the concept of Society 5.0 was born. It was coined by the Japanese Government in 2015, under the impulse of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Keidanren business federation.
This new concept, based on the global framework in which the 4th Industrial Revolution is located, aims to evolve the model, starting from the customer centric, but valuing technology not as a business, but as an instrument of prosperity and social integration. Put more clearly, it puts the human being at the center and not the industry.
Society 5.0 may sound very philosophical, as well as the purpose of massive transformation employed by new generation companies or technology companies, but the truth is that it is the polar star that guides its mission and vision. It is possible to generate business with the great opportunities offered by the great global problems, while benefiting everyone. This is Society 5.0.
Hence, the 4th Industrial Revolution affects the industry as such, and the concept of Society 5.0 in stakeholders. It is about putting the person at the center of technological transformations, in the framework of Industry 4.0, and this sense of societal integration goes beyond the German concept of Industry 4.0, or even Made in China 2025 concept. Social engineering has an essential specific weight.
Society 5.0 is named that way because its creators consider that there have been four types of societies before: Society 1.0 hunting and gathering; Society 2.0, agricultural; Society 3.0, industrial; and Society 4.0, of information. Very similar to the industrial revolutions but with one phase ahead.
We are living the integration of cyberspace (information, data, digital) and physical space (the real world) that has to be configured by Society 5.0, centered on humans, on people. If the generation of intelligence from data and information is done by humans in Society 4.0, in the next phase, it will be done mainly by machines, through Artificial Intelligence, but at the service of the human being.
But these benefits for all or at the service of the human being, face 5 «walls» to tear down, which today we are seeing with the new business models (Lyft, Uber, Airbnb, Stripe, GitLab, etc.):
- Public administration, which requires developing a clear strategy and an administrative digitalization process.
- The legal regulation, which must carry out regulatory reforms.
- Technologies, which must be oriented to the generation of knowledge and intelligence.
- The current and future workforce, which must undergo a conversion towards obtaining digital skills.
- The social mass, which must end up adopting the changes that are taking place.
As can be deduced, implementing Society 5.0 is not a matter of industry alone, but of citizens, governments and institutions and the education system. That is, from the whole community, to create a new superintelligent society and focused on the benefit of the human being.