What Is The Fourth Industrial Revolution Really?

I remember in the late 20th century one of my mentors giving us a demonstration lesson.

He described the modern classroom, that we had so meticulously put together (to impress him) as boring. The class was covered in colourful charts that demonstrated a timeline of the years’ work progress. We mindful not to overdo it with information overload or with topics that may appear irrelevant.

He looked around and then delivered the coup de grace (the death blow). He said:  Do you realise that you are competing with the supermarket and all the colour brochures that is inundating society today.

He stood back and said: ‘The products are literally leaping at the child off the shelves so you have to radically rethink your presentation’

Fast forward to the 21st Century and we have new competition. Technology

Students today are basically trained from birth to interact with technology through touch. For example, you may have seen a young child attempt to swipe the screen of a laptop or television only to be perplexed that nothing on the screen moved.

So where do we find ourselves?

Previous industrial revolutions were marked by the introduction of steam power, mass production and digital technology or…

The First Industrial Revolution is widely taken to be the shift from our reliance on animals,  human effort and biomass (dung) as primary sources of energy to the use of fossil fuels and the mechanical power this enabled. 

The Second Industrial Revolution occurred between the end of the 19th century and the first two decades of the 20th century, and brought major breakthroughs in the form of electricity distribution, both wireless and wired communication, the synthesis of ammonia and new forms of power generation.

The Third Industrial Revolution began in the 1950s with the development of digital systems, communication and rapid advances in computing power, which have enabled new ways of generating, processing and sharing information.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution can be described as the advent of “cyber-physical systems” involving entirely new capabilities for people and machines. 

While these capabilities are reliant on the technologies and infrastructure of the Third Industrial Revolution, the Fourth Industrial Revolution represents entirely new ways in which technology becomes embedded within societies and even our human bodies. Examples include genome editing, new forms of machine intelligence, breakthrough materials and approaches to governance that rely on cryptographic methods such as the blockchain.

South Africa 1st 3D printed hand
Boy, 9, gets South Africa’s first 3D-printed hand  

Back to the Future

Moon-walking mini-breaks, 3D-printed room service and hyper-personalised spaces: Welcome to the Hotel of 2119

Future trends in the travel and hospitality industry over the next 100 years include

  • intergalactic getaways,
  • fast-food nutrient pills,
  • 2-3 hour working days and
  • adaptable, personalised rooms that can transport guests everywhere from jungles to mountain ranges.

(This is according to Hilton hotels, and they should know, forecasting the bold future trends as they celebrate 100 years in hospitality.)

Their report, supported by expert insight from the fields of sustainability, innovation, design, human relations and nutrition, reveals how the growing sophistication of technology and climate change will impact the hotel industry in the future.

Personalisation is King

Technology will allow every space, fitting and furnishing to continuously update to respond to an individual’s real-time needs – the Lobby will conjure up anything from a tranquil spa to a buzzy bar, giving every guest the perfect, personal welcome – From temperature and lighting, to entertainment and beyond, microchips under the skin will enable us to wirelessly control the setting around us based on what we need, whenever we need it.

Up next: Are you ready for tomorrow—no matter what tomorrow brings?

The Best Education System?

A New Way for 21st Century Teaching

Finland’s education system is considered one of the best in the world. In international ratings, it’s always in the top ten. However, the authorities there aren’t ready to rest on their laurels, and they’ve decided to carry through a real revolution in their school system.

Finnish officials want to remove school subjects from the curriculum. There will no longer be any classes in physics, math, literature, history, or geography.

The head of the Department of Education in Helsinki, Marjo Kyllonen, explained the changes:

“There are schools that are teaching in the old-fashioned way which was of benefit in the beginning of the 1900s — but the needs are not the same, and we need something fit for the 21st century.“

Instead of individual subjects, students will study events and phenomena in an interdisciplinary format. For example, the Second World War will be examined from the perspective of history, geography, and math. And by taking the course ”Working in a Cafe,” students will absorb a whole body of knowledge about the English language, economics, and communication skills.

This system will be introduced for senior students, beginning at the age of 16. The general idea is that the students ought to choose for themselves which topic or phenomenon they want to study, bearing in mind their ambitions for the future and their capabilities. In this way, no student will have to pass through an entire course on physics or chemistry while all the time thinking to themselves “What do I need to know this for?”

The traditional format of teacher-pupil communication is also going to change. Students will no longer sit behind school desks and wait anxiously to be called upon to answer a question. Instead, they will work together in small groups to discuss problems.

The Finnish education system encourages collective work, which is why the changes will also affect teachers. The school reform will require a great deal of cooperation between teachers of different subjects. Around 70% of teachers in Helsinki have already undertaken preparatory work in line with the new system for presenting information, and, as a result, they’ll get a pay increase.

The changes are expected to be complete by 2020.

Up next: What is the fourth industrial revolution really?