We are on the brink of a technological revolution that will completely alter the way we live, work, create and consume. This will be a transformation unlike anything humankind has experienced before in scale, scope, and complexity.
1st Industrial Revolution WATER & STEAM
Steam and water power replace human and animal power with machines.
2nd Industrial Revolution ELECTRICITY
Electricity, internal combustion engines, airplanes, telephones, cars, radio, and mass production.
3rd Industrial Revolution AUTOMATION
Electronics, the internet and IT used to further the automation of mass production.
4th Industrial Revolution CYBER-PHYSICAL SYSTEMS
Driverless cars, smart robotics, materials that are lighter and tougher, and a manufacturing process built around 3D printing.
We have moved from human and animal power, to mechanized production, to mass production and the proliferation of electricity, through to an age of electronics, information technology and automated production.
Technological innovation will continue to create long-term gains in efficiency and productivity. As supply chains become localized due to technologies like additive manufacturing, and logistics and communication costs reduce, the cost of trade will decrease, leading to opening of new markets and economic growth.
As with businesses, 4IR transforms the expectations of government’s customers. Descriptions such as Adaptive, Customized, Personalized and On-Demand will become critical for government to absorb and convert into value drivers. Customers will expect that new technologies shape their experience in engaging with government, and an accelerating pace of change necessitates that government is constantly pushing the envelope on innovation, experimentation and roll-out of superior experiences.
As the physical, cyber, and biological worlds continue to converge, the experience of engaging with government will gain precedence. As a result, governments will assume new roles in managing technologies, as well as continuing to ensure that their citizens’ rights are protected. This creates new challenges in balancing surveillance of citizens, regulation of digital infrastructure and provision of services. Privacy, and an individual’s rights concerning privacy, will feature prominently in the future of government as 4IR technologies create vast amounts of data about our needs and behaviors.
Finally, government must be prepared for the redefinition of what it means to be human. 4IR technologies will create a shift in life spans, wellness, cognitive and physical abilities; this will require a revisit of moral and ethical boundaries, and the role and priorities of government.