Business

The fourth industrial revolution: will you be ready?

TECH BEACH BY
DAVID WALCOTT

Sunday, September 23, 2018

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The world is changing at an unprecedented pace spurring an entirely new business and social era. Tech Beach Retreat is on a mission to spark an entrepreneurship and innovation revolution in the Caribbean, ensuring we remain globally competitive.

In order for this mission to be successful, a shift will have to occur and the region will need to revisit the way our people are trained and what they are trained in. Through this series, Tech Beach aims to open the conversation on various emerging technologies ahead of their flagship summit in Montego Bay, Nov 29-Dec 1, 2018.

Have you ever imagined a future where new cars will not be driven or designed by people? A world where computers can easily analyse the number of sensors and deliver a 3D-printed vehicle in a showroom?

Can you imagine living in a world where software, hardware, pretty much anything you interact with can think for itself without human assistance?

Though it may be challenging to imagine such a world superimposed on the current ecosystem in the Caribbean, these technologies are slowly gaining traction in many corners of the world and inevitably will make its shores to our region.

This evolution of human existence, known as the fourth industrial revolution, is closer than we think. The Fourth Industrial Revolution involves the convergence of several disruptive technologies including machine learning, augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, Internet of things and 3D printing. These technologies will seek to revolutionise the products, industries, and services of today.

Naturally, this revolution brings with it a range of positive potentialities and negative possibilities.

One of the potential positive impacts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is an increased level of productivity. With this imminent wave of technology, medical personnel can search for cancer cells within seconds, large organisations can process data in minutes, and students can scan through a whole library within the blink of an eye. Human beings will be able to make smart and faster choices than ever before.

The Fourth Industrial revolution will definitely have an impact on every sector of the economy:

•Transportation: There already exist car-sharing services that work on multiple platforms to provide a seamless experience to the customer. These services include familiar names such as Uber and Lyft. Just with a smartphone, a customer can easily book a ride, track the vehicle, and get to know the drivers, pay their ride and provide feedback and the end of their trip. With increasing mileage being covered by research into self-driving vehicles, this entire industry is slowly evolving into one where the drivers are eliminated. In like manner, artificial intelligence is slowly but surely helping to reduce road congestion, pollution andcreating cheaper and better transport services in various parts of the globe.

• Retail: In the retail industry, artificial intelligence and machine learning are helping firms develop better relationships with the customers. Customer-oriented services can now provide 24-hour support and facilitate daily transactions on mobile devices.

• Finance: With AI and increasingly powerful computational capabilities, banks and other financial institutions are going through significant internal change. Many argue that redundancies in the banking sector will abound with increased machine efficiency and decentralisation of the financial sector. At this point, however, it is safe to say that this revolution is currently serving to the advantage of financial institutions, by helping them detect fraud and manage client relationships.

• Insurance: With big data and machine learning, insurance firms will be able to more efficiently make risk-oriented decisions. They will have access to an increased level of detail in monitoring risk, pricing policies and responding to trends.

• Agriculture: In the agricultural industry, AI-powered machines are now used in detecting weeds and pests, spraying herbicides using robotic sprayers and measuring crop populations.

• Government: The changes in power dynamics brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution will also force the governments of various countries to change their policy-making process and interact better with its citizens. Social media is already an extremely powerful tool that has been transformative in its political impact. Citizens, on the other hand, will also find it easier to interact with policymakers and voice out their opinions without fear of molestation.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a welcome development that could radically change how things are done, improve the quality of life and transform human existence all over the world.

Learn more about this global revolution at Tech Beach Retreat, taking place Nov 30- Dec 2, 2018 at the Iberostar Resort in Montego Bay.

Dr David Walcott is a Rhodes scholar, a medical doctor and an entrepreneur. He is the founder of Novamed, which is involved in building and investing in first-world health solutions for the Caribbean.

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