What is the fourth industrial revolution?

This is a transition to production with intelligent control, independent of the person. Such a system itself responds to external changes and quickly switches between the manufacture of different products. Its elements are independent units at all levels – from the pressure sensor to the entire plant.

robot in a metal factory

The implementation of complex innovations: big data, the Internet of things, robotics, virtual reality – transform the economy. Labor, lifestyle and politics will change. There are advantages and dangers in this..

What industrial revolutions were before?

Old Ford factory photo

Ford factory workers put the Model T on the chassis. This first machine, which began to be produced in million series, thanks to conveyor technology, instead of manual assembly.

? XVII century – steam engine. The man shifted his work to a machine – hardy, durable, not requiring food. Steam engines gave impetus to the development of transport (steam locomotives and steamboats appeared), the textile industry, and mechanical engineering. The creation of large cities in the modern sense has begun. The share of people employed in agriculture has fallen dramatically.

? XIX century – mass (conveyor) production. The spread of electricity has opened up new opportunities: the working day has increased, and stable and productive equipment has appeared. The turning point was the launch of conveyor production of Ford cars. Now the labor of one person gave the result, which previously required a dozen workers.

? XX century – computers and the Internet. The man gave the calculations to the machines. For several decades, computers along with the Internet have become indispensable in any work..

Fourth Industrial Revolution Technologies

Sophia Robot

Sofia Robot developed by Hanson Robotics. She adapts to the behavior of people and learns from communicating with them..

Big data

Humanity is surrounded by a gigantic array of information that it continues to generate at an increasing rate. It needs to be structured and guided, which is what the big data industry is doing in the computer science industry..

Big Data is used everywhere.

  • In the study of settlements, according to information from cell towers.
  • In the cultivation of grapes, taking into account data on humidity, amount of light, soil composition over several years.
  • In planning transport infrastructure.
  • In marketing, advertising.

Internet of things

Internet of Things? Are “smart” houses, hospitals, factories. The main idea is the autonomous operation of systems consisting of many devices that “talk” to each other. They know how to study the external environment, track each other, react to changes. On the Internet of things, man is freed from controlling devices. He does not give them commands.

Also, the Internet of things is changing the industry – production is becoming flexible and efficient. Machines make mistakes less often than people, instantly transmit data, adjust the process.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is a promising area for the economy and entertainment. In addition to the gaming niche, VR and AR are good for education. Virtual simulators do not wear out, are economical and leave any accident in virtuality.

In the scientific field, the value is similar – you can conduct experiments in an isolated system without risking environmental, financial or political damage..

Quantum computers

To process data, such computers use the phenomena of quantum mechanics – quantum entanglement and superposition. In traditional computer systems, the basic unit of information is a bit. It has a value of either 0 or 1. And in quantum it is a qubit, which can be 0 or 1, or both simultaneously.

Technically, a quantum computer does not yet exist, but research is moving closer to its creation. This will increase the computing power that will help advance in computer science, cryptography and digital technology..

3D printing

3D printers print homes, cars, dentures. The production of objects of different shapes, structures and contents on the basis of one device is a typical example of the fourth industrial revolution. First, a man replaced horsepower with a motor, then manual labor – with machine labor, after independent calculations – with computer. 3D printing – technology, which combines these three steps.

Autonomous robots

Helper robots are not a new phenomenon. But there are no completely independent robots that will self-learn and react like a human. Their appearance fascinates and scares at the same time..

Intelligent robots and technological apocalypse are a topic for philosophy. In practice, scientists are trying to develop robots for the benefit of people who already trust unmanned taxis, trains, autonomous courier drones.

Blockchain and distributed registries

Old control systems have become obsolete. They create costs, are vulnerable to corruption and are not able to consistently offer optimal solutions. Distributed registries, for example, blockchain, are a new stage in the collective management of communities. A fully or partially decentralized system guarantees impartiality, transparency, absolute trust of participants to each other.

The blockchain has prospects in banking, public administration, and social infrastructure. Wherever we need honest decisions in the public interest, rather than individual members or groups.

Klaus Schwab

Klaus Schwab

Klaus Schwab – German economist, president of the World Economic Forum. In 2016, he published the book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution. She became the most famous work, which discusses not only the prospects, but also the dangers of what is happening. Schwab warns: it is necessary to catch the technological jerk so that it does not do us more harm than good. He considers the problem sequentially, moving from history to future changes..

Potential hazards Schwab writes about:

  • Social stratification due to labor market contraction: automation will take away jobs from the middle class. The gap between developed countries and third world countries will widen. But, on the other hand, a revolution can create new resources for those lagging behind..
  • Undermining the existing system of power due to the deterioration of the middle class.
  • Digital security and personal data leakage: with the development of technology, human actions are easier to track.


  • Relationship honesty: less chance of fraud, easier to disclose and prevent crime.
  • Elimination of routine: robotics and big data will remove paperwork. They will free a person from monotonous work. The value of professions where they work “with your head, not with your hands” will increase.
  • Perfection of the economy: all sectors will become more efficient. The rationality of the use of natural resources will increase. Unmanned transport will improve the logistics sector. Due to the “transparency” of the economy, the role of intermediaries will weaken.
  • Personalization: production and services will be tailored to each individual. People will be able to customize the environment “for themselves”, thanks to virtual reality.

Fourth Industrial Revolution in Russia

unmanned taxi from Yandex

Unmanned taxi in Skolkovo from the Internet company Yandex.

In Russia, the development of promising economic sectors is carried out through the NTI program – the National Technological Initiative. This is a national innovation policy document: it is responsible for creating companies for emerging global markets. The projects included in the program are aimed at developing 9 major markets:

  • AeroNet – unmanned aerial vehicles, navigation.
  • EnergyNet – Renewable (Green) Energy.
  • AutoNet – unmanned cars.
  • FinNet – cryptocurrencies, blockchain, distributed financial structures.
  • FoodNet – personalized food production and delivery systems.
  • HealthNet – disease modeling, biomarkers, biohacking, life extension.
  • NeuroNet – neurocomputer interfaces, “connecting” a person to the Internet.
  • MariNet – smart surface and submarine transport systems.
  • SafeNet – security, biometric authentication, control.

Russia, as a developing country, is trying to keep up with general trends. So, in 2016, Vladimir Putin spoke about the need for a systematic program for the development of the digital economy in a message to the Federal Assembly. True, a number of major changes are needed to implement the idea. To increase the innovative potential of companies, strengthen protection of property rights, establish a venture ecosystem, increase digital security, and develop a network market for goods and services.

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