The year 2020 is basically just around the corner - in just four years we will reach that nicely rounded number many refer to as a huge milestone in technology and science of the 21st century. Hello and welcome, Industrial revolution 4.0.

So what can we expect in 2020? Experts and thinkers speak of customizable robotic companions, guaranteed minimum incomes becoming a must since human workforce is to be replaced by robots, teleportation not only possible but becoming commonplace, ... Imagine the world knowing only one currency, or for that matter, imagine having no currency at all. Will humans then, after robots take over physical work, be able to focus more on artistic aspects of life? Will we learn to use the full capacity of human brain? Will the emergance of real-time diagnostics for complex diseases lead to a greater elderly population, since most of today's diseases will be treatable (avoidable)? Also by 2020, we should expect global electrification, as new, green technologies (think solar, wind and wave power) will be cheaper and affordable.

But if we focus on AI technology and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and what kind of impact it will have on humans, predictions from the World Economic Forum sum it up nicely - according to them, the Fourth Industrial revolution will "in its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. ... The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing."

The Forum estimates that a grand total of 7.1 million jobs will be lost as a direct result of many of technological innovations humans created ourselves, for example AI robots. Job positions that are most likely to be filled in by robots instead of humans are those in "administrative and routine white-collar office functions." Due to enormous quantities of data, robots will be able to make certain decisions (even at the executive table) without any human assistance. In manufacturing and production, where robots already play a vital part, replacing humans with robots will continue. The Forum emphasizes it will be cruical for humans to do some serious  'upskilling', if they are to keep or get a job. With the ever growing population and the increasing numbers of robots 'applying' for the jobs, the competition will reach extremes, setting back female workers. 

From the technological and scientific progress humans have made during the course of our existence, it is evident that the potential of what is yet to be is limited only by our imagination. Will progress eventually result in the end of mankind or will it in fact secure a better future for all of us?

Jan. 23, 2016 Living photo: Profimedia

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Plugin magazine 04/2016


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