The first 3 industrial revolution talked about the importance and worries of the labour force as a concept.
1. The first revolution: 1784 invention of the mechanical production and steam power energy.
2. The second revolution: 1870 the invention of mass production and electrical energy
3. The third revolution: 1969 the invention of electronics and IT
4. The fourth revolution: Today? Artificial Intelligence and Big Data? Or something else?
What do they have in common? That is Automation and Connectivity as proclaimed by Nicholas Davis, the world economic forum Head of Society and Innovation.
The first and utmost reaction to structural change is always a fear for job security. Similar to the 1970s, the fear for replacement by computers over current fear over replacement by robots is nothing new but in vary in existence in various forms. Certain Jobs will be lost and many others will also be created so a successful economy is likely to match 4 criteria:
1. Labour market flexibility
2. High skills in the attribute of flexible skills
3. Flexible infrastructure
4. A robust Legal system
The Labour market is one that empowers a lot to substitutes for every country. Whether a particular job results in an inefficiency towards the introduction of technology or a job preservation at the expense of currently inefficiency level, that may ultimately result in the non-existent of jobs in the later part of the revolution which have been the key issues into the third revolution.
Skills factor is an subjective matter. In short, a more skilled worker will thrive and eventually earn more in income than a less skilled worker but that being said does not work all the time in all aspects and in all economies. Teaching, self-learning and flexibility to adapt to work trends is crucial to an every evolving revolution of technology.
An industrial revolution is about changing economics structures. Many of these capital intensive infrastructure has been built, developed and enhanced over the longer term and some of these may deemed obsolete. Brick and mortar shops have been significantly reduced since the introduction of internet which pave ways towards e-commerce which is currently a partial result of a complementary support of smart technology, digital connectivity and a more than efficient network.
As the economy moves towards a more virtual world, "trade" is likely to become in the form of intellectual property rather than a physical product. Legal protection and legal issues will be the main source of contact point to protect, secure and patent a particular idea or product in order to obtain exclusivity over a virtual world in that sense.
Another point to note would be the power of brand, a quality assurance towards a particular brand that could come in the form of a service/quality or even assurance may be able to enhance the brand power. The opposite also holds for brands that faces competition, margins and quality control or even a layered middle-man system can be greatly reduced in the face of the revolution.
Very likely, we would be very used to seeing powerhouses and many others who have the resources to keep the basics before the revolution and tweak them to provide a transition phase of moving into a new economy or as we know it, new world. Developed nations, emerging markets look likely to benefit from such a drastic change and the next generation of technology and age will be something different from the hardworking baby boomers.
Who benefits from the industrial revolution? Like many other things we do in life, It's never a one size fits all concept but keep on learning because that is the way to stay relevant. Do not stop to innovate and make the necessary changes. Shit happens but being uncomfortable makes us regularly improve and be creative. Imagine a situation when we sit and wait for things to happen, more often than not things doesn't pro-create on its own. Like a volunteer, their small acts of kindness usually leads a long way and we never know what might be in store for us.
So I say, keep the faith and keep on thriving in uncomfortable and uneasy situations.