The Fourth Industrial Revolution is marked by emerging technology breakthroughs in a number of fields, including robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, The Internet of Things (IoT), decentralised consensus, 3D printing and autonomous vehicles. The most significant impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is to improve the quality of life, reduce inequality of the world’s population and raise income level.
Let us define these technologies
Robotics is a branch of technology which deals with robots. Robots are programmable machines which are usually able to carry out a series of actions autonomously, or semi-autonomously.
There are three important factors which constitute a robot:
- Robots interact with the physical world via sensors and actuators.
- Robots are programmable and with the use of technologies such as AI and Machine Learning, robots can become self-learning, making them intelligent.
- Robots are usually autonomous or semi-autonomous.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science. It involves developing computer programs to complete tasks which would otherwise require human intelligence. AI algorithms can tackle learning, perception, problem-solving, language-understanding and/or logical reasoning.
AI is used in many ways within the modern world. For example, AI algorithms are used in Google searches, Amazon’s recommendation engine and SatNav route finders. Most AI programs are not used to control robots.
Nanotechnology is science, engineering, and technology conducted at the nanoscale, which is about 1 to 100 nanometers. Nanoscience and nanotechnology are the study and application of extremely small things and can be used across all the other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering, e.g. the ability to produce a particle or equipment that can go into the human body to kill off cancer cells — because human hands are too big to handle nano-sized particles.
Quantum computing is the study of a non-classical model of computation. Whereas traditional models of computing rely on “classical” representations of computational memory, a quantum computation could transform the memory into a quantum superposition of possible classical states. A quantum computer is a device that could perform such computation.
Quantum superposition is a fundamental principle of quantum mechanics. It states that, much like waves in classical physics, any two (or more) quantum states can be added together (“superposed”) and the result will be another valid quantum state; and conversely, that every quantum state can be represented as a sum of two or more other distinct states
Biotechnology is a broad term for a group of technologies based on the application of biological processes. It is used to make or modify foodstuffs and medicines, reduce wastes and environmental impacts and create renewable energy sources.
Modern biotechnology is the term used to describe a range of processes and techniques, especially at the molecular level.
Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a vast number of “things” that are connected to the internet so they can share data with other things – IoT applications, connected devices, industrial machines and more.
Cryptocurrencies are not a technology unto themselves but applications of technology. This technology is decentralized consensus. Decentralized systems are distributed systems where a group of independent but equally privileged nodes operate on local information to accomplish global goals.
The 3D printing process builds a three-dimensional object from a computer-aided design (CAD) model, usually by successively adding material layer by layer, which is why it is also called additive manufacturing, unlike conventional machining, casting and forging processes, where material is removed from a stock item (subtractive manufacturing) or poured into a mould and shaped by means of dies, presses and hammers.
An autonomous vehicle is one that can drive itself from a starting point to a predetermined destination in “autopilot” mode using various in-vehicle technologies and sensors, including adaptive cruise control, active steering (steer by wire), anti-lock braking systems (brake by wire), GPS navigation technology, lasers and radar.
Now that you know what all these technologies mean, note that they have been created to benefit humankind. Believe It or Not, as Robert Ripley would say.
Author: Eva Noble CA(SA) is Chief Operations officer at ONPRO Consulting SA.