News on Sunday

Fourth industrial revolution: When Internet will connect objects

Internet will be the cornerstone of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It will be present in all aspects of life by connecting objects to make their function more useful, also known as the Internet of Things (IOT). By 2020, some 24 billion intelligent products will be connected through Internet. At present, there are over 9 billion connected devices in the world, generating 2.5 trillion units of data each day. The internet of Things will change methods of production and our daily life.  “We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another”, points out Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum who has launched his book on the Fourth Industrial Revolution at the Davos Summit in January. He is of the opinion that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. The first industrial revolution was driven by the steam engine, the second by mass production and the third by computer- assisted machines – the fourth Industry 4.0, is being shaped by networking and the Internet. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. Klaus Schwab gives three reasons why today’s transformations represent not merely a prolongation of the Third Industrial Revolution, but rather the arrival of a Fourth and distinct one: velocity, scope, and systems impact. The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country. And the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance. Our identity at risk According to him, 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. Already, artificial intelligence is all around us, from self-driving cars and drones to virtual assistants and software that translate or invest. Impressive progress has been made in AI in recent years, driven by exponential increases in computing power and by the availability of vast amounts of data, from software used to discover new drugs to algorithms used to predict our cultural interests. Digital fabrication technologies, meanwhile, are interacting with the biological world on a daily basis. Engineers, designers, and architects are combining computational design, additive manufacturing, materials engineering, and synthetic biology to pioneer a symbiosis between microorganisms, our bodies, the products we consume, and even the buildings we inhabit. Klaus Schwab states that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will change not only what we do but also who we are. It will affect our identity and all the issues associated with it: our sense of privacy, our notions of ownership, our consumption patterns, the time we devote to work and leisure, and how we develop our careers, cultivate our skills, meet people, and nurture relationships. It is already changing our health and leading to a “quantified” self, and sooner than we think, it may lead to human augmentation. The list is endless because it is bound only by our imagination.
[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"10351","attributes":{"class":"media-image wp-image-17951 alignleft","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"208","height":"186","alt":"Maros-Sefcovic"}}]]Europe 4.0 Maros Sefcovic, Vice President of the European Commission, in charge of Energy Union, considers that Europe is well set to create a smart green digital economy based on sustainability and high profitability – benefiting society as a whole. Transformational breakthroughs and disruptive business models must boost economic and sustainable growth while improving the well-being of society’s different groups, including the most vulnerable ones. Europe was first to embark on this bold new course and it must show the continuous leadership in this effort. This leadership stems from a collective effort; that of governments and parliaments but also and foremost of our citizens, workers, entrepreneurs, start-ups, cities and regions, researchers, companies and universities. A smart and fair Europe – a Europe 4.0 – should be the new rallying vision for Europeans.
When sensors will command the world Professor Andy Neely, head of the University of Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), indicates that the basic idea is that increasingly things (of all types) will be stuffed with sensors and connected to the Internet. They will stream data back to the original equipment manufacturers who in turn will use sophisticated analytics to analyse and interpret the data. There are loads of examples. Caterpillar streams data back from mining and construction equipment, using this both to monitor the health of individual machines and also to identify ways in which productivity and efficiency might be increased. Rolls Royce monitors aero engines in flight, using sensors to track vibrations in fan blades, which allows them to predict whether or not maintenance is required. In the consumer world – wearable devices (e.g. Nike’s fitbit or Garmin’s forerunner) track and record exercise levels with the data being uploaded to the Internet for benchmarking and comparison purposes. A new generation of connected solutions Covadonga Fernández, IT consultant, indicates that in the domestic sphere Apple already allows switches and lights to be integrated with the iPhone, and managed by the highly effective Siri. Before long, our homes will recognize us as we walk through the door, and switch on the lights or the air-conditioning. The multinational IBM has already announced its decision to install its business unit for the Internet of Things in the German city of Munich. According to this IT giant, this new innovation laboratory –which will house around one thousand developers, consultants, researchers and designers– will be used by data scientists, engineers and programmers to build a new generation of connected solutions. In Spain the IoT is closely linked to smart cities and to the funds that Europe has been dedicating to developing the smart cities sector since 2010. What does Industry 4.0 look like? “One of the more tangible aspects of the fourth industrial revolution is the idea of service oriented design”, writes the editor Daniel Oberhaus. This can range from customers using factory settings to produce their own products, to companies tailoring individual products for individual consumers. The potentials enabled by this mode of production are enormous. For example, the communication between smart products on the Internet of Things and the smart machines manufacturing them on what GE calls the “Industrial Internet” means that objects will be able to monitor their own use and determine when they are going to give out. If your phone knows that it is going to “die” in the near future, it can notify the factory, which can alter its production levels to reflect the data coming in from the smart objects produced there. When your phone kicks the bucket, there will already be another one waiting for you, meaning the days of back-ordering are numbered. What’s more, as this process becomes more sophisticated and integrated, your phone will arrive already programmed with your custom settings, just like how you had it when it gave out on you a few hours ago. This process is not just limited to phones and other sophisticated electronics, however. Everything from custom-fit clothing to custom shampoos and soaps will be at the consumer’s disposal, without the added cost that has typically accompanied individually tailored designs in the past. Objects will increasingly be made just for you and in a very real way—it will no longer be about selecting one out of a handful of predetermined colours for your phone and calling it personalized.
The Dark side Cybersecurity
The impact of automation and technical advancement is just one aspect of this new revolution. Cybersecurity is another. “We will see more security issues with the Internet of things,” warned Eugene Kaspersky, chairman and CEO of Kaspersky Lab, at a panel organized by Internet security company WiseKey. From the vulnerability of power plants to transit systems and automated cars, Davos has been abuzz with these concerns. Jimmy Wales, the Founder of Wikipedia, urged attendees to take cybersecurity seriously, but not to allow government to use the pretense of ‘security’ to deprive users of encryption. A group of organizations, companies, and individuals even posted an open letter to government leaders in attendance, encouraging them to support the development and use of communications and systems while also rejecting “laws, policies, or other mandates or practices, including secret agreements with companies, that limit access to or undermine encryption and other secure communications tools and technologies.” Cybersecurity, of course, is just one of the challenges taking center stage at the WEF conference this week. In today’s environment of escalating terrorist attacks and heightened economic and political instability, it is unrealistic and unfair to look to Davos as some sort of panacea for the world’s problems. Indeed, while the conference agenda is full of sessions about some of the timeliest topics, including the refugee crisis in Europe and the rising threat of terrorism after Islamic State-inspired attacks in Paris, California, and elsewhere, the discussions are unlikely to sway national policies or produce major breakthroughs. – Francesca Spidalieri, Senior Fellow for Cyber Leadership. Klaus Schwab indicates that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will also profoundly impact the nature of national and international security, affecting both the probability and the nature of conflict. The history of warfare and international security is the history of technological innovation, and today is no exception. Modern conflicts involving states are increasingly “hybrid” in nature, combining traditional battlefield techniques with elements previously associated with nonstate actors. The distinction between war and peace, combatant and noncombatant, and even violence and nonviolence (think cyberwarfare) is becoming uncomfortably blurry. As this process takes place and new technologies such as autonomous or biological weapons become easier to use, individuals and small groups will increasingly join states in being capable of causing mass harm. This new vulnerability will lead to new fears. But at the same time, advances in technology will create the potential to reduce the scale or impact of violence, through the development of new modes of protection, for example, or greater precision in targeting.

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