MWC17: Humans required for 4th Industrial Revolution

4th industrial revolution
Don't forget the humans, says Bob Moritz, global chairman of PwC. Credit: GSMA

The so-called 4th Industrial Revolution is upon us and promises amazing benefits to humankind, but it will only deliver if technology companies remember to incorporate actual humans into the mix.

That was the key message from Bob Moritz, global chairman of PwC, in a talk during a MWC17 keynote session focused on the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR). Moritz said that people, not technology, are the key to the success of 4IR. “To fulfil the potential of the 4th Industrial Revolution, we have to think about what are we doing about the people aspect?”

Moritz said there were two aspects to this. The first is education – not just in terms of skillsets to work with the relevant technologies, but also getting people in general to be aware of and understand the potential of the 4IR, smart cities and other manifestations of digital technology.

“Awareness is extremely important,” he said, particularly in terms of helping people to adapt to the technology. “Teenagers will be more comfortable with this technology than a 50-year-old person, and we need to be able to help the 50-year-old get to that same level of comfort.”

Moritz said businesses, governments and community leaders need to do more to educate people about these trends and promote the potential benefits. “We haven’t always been very good at articulating the positive aspects of this technology to people outside of the industry – we need to change that.”

The second human aspect to consider in the 4IR is interaction. We need for people to be more connected to one another, both technologically and emotionally.

“These are the ingredients of the 4th Industrial Revolution,” he said. “Without them, we can’t connect the dots and fulfill that potential. We need smarter people for smart cities.”

As an example of smart cities putting people front and center, H.E. Dr. Aisha Butti bin Bishr, Director General of Smart Dubai, said during her keynote on Dubai’s smart-city project that part of the project includes a “happiness” measurement feature that gathers feedback from people who use smart-city services.

She explained that because one of the central mission statements of Smart Dubai is to improve quality of life and make Dubai “the happiest city on Earth”, touchpoints throughout Dubai ask people to rate a particular service (great, average, poor, etc). “This provides real-time customer satisfaction data so we can see what needs to be improved.”

Of course, the session explored the technological aspects of the 4IR as well, with Nokia president and CEO Rajeev Suri talking up the importance of 5G to the 4IR in terms of delivering hyper-local and hyper-mobile connectivity at hyper-scales, and staging live demos involving industrial robots and remote-controlled monster trucks.

He also offered 3D printing as an example of the kinds of efficiencies that the 4IR will deliver. Suri described a hypothetical situation where, for example, you drive to the garage and discover you need a new muffler but they don’t have your specific model in stock. So, you order it, go home and wait for it to arrive, then go back to the garage to have it installed.

“Imagine a scenario where your car detects that your muffler is about to be faulty, sends that information to the cloud, then automatically orders a new one – the order is confirmed, and when you get home, your 3D printer prints the new muffler and your house robot can install it for you,” Suri said. “It’s much more efficient and consumes less resources.”

And, he added, “You need 5G for that.”

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