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The Fourth Industrial Revolution Essay

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The Fourth Industrial Revolution

The term the Fourth Industrial Revolution was coined by Professor Klaus Schwab who is an executive chairperson. The definition describes the world where individuals move between digital realms and offline reality by using connected technology. The First Industrial Revolution transformed the lives of people from the handicraft and agricultural economy to the one that was dominated by machines and industries. The emergence of the industrial revolution meant that information technology became the main engine that was used to automate all forms of production. Although scholars classify each industrial revolution differently, the fact is that they comprise a series of events that were built upon the innovations of the previous revolutions (Schwab, 2017). This sequence of innovations led to the advancement of the forms of production in all economic sectors.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution was written in 2017 by Professor Klaus Schwab who is an authority in leadership matters. He has a doctorate in economics and a master’s degree in public policy and has received several awards both nationally and internationally for his prominent work. The book contains relevant information because it concerns issues that are pertinent to society. The writer mainly focuses on how new technologies driven by artificial intelligence are changing all social spheres (Schwab, 2017). The way everything is done today has changed drastically due to new technologies that drive governments, individuals and organisations.

Changes in Technology

The book begins with the discussion of the major revolutionary trends starting with artificial intelligence, the biotechnology of the autonomous vehicles, nanotechnology, the Internet of things and robotics. The author does not emphasise individual technologies but rather the overall changes that the Internet has presented to society (Schwab, 2017). He states that the transformation has not penetrated into society comprehensively because the revolution has just begun (Schwab, 2017). Leaders in different sectors try to institute changes in the structure of their organisations so that they could utilise the benefits of changes. The rest of the book unravels broader opportunities and challenges for society, business, governments, individuals and other institutions globally (Schwab, 2017). The author strives to answer the concerns of the majority of people whether the revolution will lead to massive unemployment or create prosperity (Schwab, 2017). The outcome is predicted to be a balance between technology and human workforce.

When one hears the term an industrial revolution, they think of the emergence of railroads and the steam engine invented in the 1800s. When compared with the previous transformations, the current changes are transforming the world but rather in a more common way. It is moving on a larger scale and, at the same time, more rapidly. Such contemporary technologies as self-driven cars are part of the Fourth Revolution. According to Schwab (2017), even those areas that were not touched before have joined the technological advancement, thus producing outcomes which could not be imagined a few years before. Since the revolution marks the start of a new period, everyone needs to have a deep understanding of what it will mean to human life.

Adapting to Technological Changes

This is upon everyone to be privy to the current changes and adapt to them so that no one stagnates. Schwab (2017) does not only highlight the changes the Fourth Revolution will bring to day-to-day operations but goes ahead and gives suggestions on what one needs to do so that they could receive maximum benefits from such transformations. The main message that the author wants everybody to understand is that collaborative growth is vital in this era of new technologies (Schwab, 2017). Schwab (2017) further says that, after leaders have addressed all the obstacles new technology brings, they should utilise them for the advantage of people. Thus, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a comprehensive and fascinating dialogue highlighting challenges and benefits that the transition to advanced developments will make available (Schwab, 2017). People who are in a dilemma with unanswered questions will have their issues resolved if they read this book because it addresses all the concerns about the uncertainty of new technological territories.

The term revolution means a sudden change in the manner of doing things. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, therefore, performs the same functions since it covers the territories that were not known before (Schwab, 2017). At the same time, the previous revolutions mainly concentrated on computer control, mechanisation, automation and mass production while the fourth one entails a range of both existing and new technologies. Furthermore, the changes will be across all the economies and industries, which means that various stakeholders will be affected (Schwab, 2017). The book surpasses being an introduction of a term but goes further and addresses social concerns and what can be done to ensure that this new phenomenon becomes exciting and is embraced by humanity.

Professor Schwab has been at the epicentre of the affairs affecting people for more than four decades. Through his book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, he authoritatively explains that the world is at the beginning of a revolution that will tremendously change the way human beings are currently living, working and relating to one another (Schwab, 2017). The book considers the issues that are relevant today and gives insights on how individuals can handle the future that is unfolding at a high rate (Schwab, 2017). The author gives finer details on how people’s collective responsibility can ensure that everyone accrues the benefits associated with the current changes (Schwab, 2017). Prior industrial revolutions freed humanity from relying on animal power to perform their duties. Through information technology, people developed digital capabilities that made mass production of goods broader and easier. However, according to Schwab (2017), this revolution is profoundly different from the previous one. It consists of several technologies that combine the digital, biological and physical worlds, which affect all the sectors of humanity.

Industries and economies will be immensely affected by the transformation to a level where it questions the existence of humanity. Schwab (2017) argues that the revolution has led to changes, disruptions and shifts, which means that individuals live at a time full of great peril and promises. As the author notes, the world is now capable of connecting billions of people to the digital platform, thereby improving the operations of organisations, governments and individuals (Schwab, 2017). Even assets are managed in a manner that engages the natural environment, which undoes all the misdeeds of the preceding revolutions.

However, as an ambiguous idea, the hypothesis is presented that some organisations might find it difficult to familiarise to the immense changes introduced by the digital transformation. Schwab (2017) remarks that governments are likely to be unwilling and unable to regulate and employ new technologies to capture the benefits associated with the new beginning. In addition, the shifting power will create unique security concerns; societies will fragment, and inequality will widen (Schwab, 2017). The author goes further to put the recent changes in technology into the historical perspective by outlining the most important technologies that drive the Fourth Revolution (Schwab, 2017). He discusses the impacts of new technologies on civil society, businesses, individuals and the regimes and provides reasoning on how these interested parties should respond (Schwab, 2017). At the core of his analysis, the researcher is convinced that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is under control as long as there is collaboration across all the sectors, geographies and disciplines (Schwab, 2017). Working together is necessary and critical so that the opportunities gained could be easily accepted and exploited for full benefits.

Due to the imminent changes and challenges the revolution will bring, cooperation between citizens and leaders is considered beneficial to shape the future that will work for them. Schwab (2017) states that all individuals should be empowered and constantly reminded that new technologies are made by people themselves and for their advantage, which is a good opportunity that needs to be seized. The author argues that the pace at which individuals, organisations and governments embrace changes is crucial (Schwab, 2017). If they are slow to adapt, their very existence will be in jeopardy. The technological changes have prompted the author to raise the issue at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting that was held in 2016 (Schwab, 2017). At the meeting, one of the main agenda was to learn the current technological advancements and how people can benefit from the transformations brought by the revolution.

Schwab further explains that modern technological progress will have immense impacts on society (Schwab, 2017). The effects include inequalities because the labour market is biased towards people who have technical skills. Another impact is the emergence of society referred to as self-centred (Schwab, 2017). The belief that one belongs to society will be defined by personal interests and values rather than work and family norms. The author argues that the Fourth Revolution is different from the previous revolutions in terms of complexity, scope and scale. (Schwab, 2017). The idea is promoted that individuals have ample opportunities to shape the revolution because there is no another way humanity can go without adjusting.

The book says that artificial intelligence is already in use and ranges from the operation of drones, supercomputers, 3D printing, virtual assistants, wearable sensors, DNA sequencing and minute microchips to smart thermostats. These are systems that control the way businesses and operations are run. Therefore, Schwab (2017) explains that the changes in technology are already in operation, although most people have not seized an opportunity to capitalise on this (Schwab, 2017). The author outlines his ideas boldly on how transformations can be harnessed to shape the future for the benefit of humanity (Schwab, 2017). He remarks that one of the advantages of technology is empowering individuals rather than replacing them, as most professionals argue (Schwab, 2017). Technology makes societies progress rather than disrupts them, and innovators of such changes respect the ethical and moral norms of introducing transformations. Therefore, the thesis is offered that everyone has a chance to make contributions to the development of society due to new technologies.

Challenges Posed by the Fourth Industrial Revolution

In the book, the framework is offered, which leaders in any sector can use to meet the challenges posed by the changes and maximise on the profound adjustments. Schwab (2017) has had a deep understanding of this topic for more than forty years of uniting civil society, the private sector and the government, which gives him hands-on experience on the issue. The author begins a discussion on how each person can ensure that the revolution is for the advantage of humanity (Schwab, 2017). During this revolution, organisations that will survive are those that are driven by values and purposes because this is through these attributes that they can grasp the benefits of economic, social and technological changes.

Although there is social excitement due to the changes the revolution will bring in control over countries, industries and companies, history teaches that any major disruptions to the economy come with other implications. According to the researcher, some of the effects of the revolution include political and social changes that require different ways of organising, thinking and working (Schwab, 2017). Thus, this is important for the revolution to act as an eye-opener so that nobody could be lagging behind because the consequences of not conforming are dire.

In Schwab’s book, the beginning of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is explained comprehensively. This stage of human development is presented as the phenomenon that alters the way goods are manufactured from smart industries, synthetic biology and autonomous operations. The other changes include how people communicate with quantum and ubiquitous computing. Schwab (2017), therefore, proposes that new ways of doing things have to be formulated to guide people through the revolution. Everyone has the responsibility of others to positively contribute to harnessing the benefits of the existing transformations.

Intelligence machines play a major role in any conversation regarding the Fourth Revolution. For most people, this is one of the concerns of the new wave of technology. The changes have, therefore, aggravated the already existing fears in society about the role of human beings in the future workforce. Schwab (2017) discusses this topic in detail and tries to dispel the concerns that the workforce in factories will be replaced with robots. He explains that industrial facilities are developing ways in which computer applications will work together with the traditional workforce (Schwab, 2017). The author states that the rapid increase of intelligent machines does not pose a dilemma on whether computers will replace human beings or not (Schwab, 2017). He articulates that contrary to common beliefs, the revolution will enhance workforce capabilities (Schwab, 2017). Thus, leaders should start preparing their employees and cultivate a model where they will work with robots.

Preparedness in Society

The major concern arising from the analysis of the book is whether society will be able to control the new wave or not. Although the revolution has the potential of changing the way people work and live, its success lies in the combined efforts of citizens, governments and organisations. Schwab (2017) argues that if the authorities fail to promptly regulate and employ the revolution technologies, and organisations fail to adapt, society will face severe problems. By considering this issue, the author requests citizens and leaders in different fields to reshape the future by providing the conditions under which people come first (Schwab, 2017). To ensure that individuals are given priority, they should be empowered and reminded constantly that new technologies are for the common good.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is majorly driven by the levels of development in science, biology and digital technology. The First Industrial Revolution changed the world, particularly the means of production, by replacing humans with mechanical power driven by a steam engine. The Second Industrial Revolution made mass production possible through the invention of assembly lines and electricity. The Third Industrial Revolution was mainly powered by the Internet and digital computing, which automated the production process. According to Schwab (2017), the Fourth Revolution advances these technologies but does not eliminate their use. Therefore, the existing and new developments will be utilised alongside each other.

The book is a worthwhile toolbox that can help governments and individuals to manoeuvre this endeavour. The Fourth Industrial Revolution clearly describes how innovations in technology have shaken societal and industrial fundamentals. Schwab (2017) explains the main 23 shifts that every human is going to face. Although the author talks about technological changes in society, the book is not about technology since the information in the author’s mind is about people, their intelligence and the qualities that are needed to utilise the revolution (Schwab, 2017). The researcher makes clear points on how diversity is essential because this is one of the most vital resources for everyone (Schwab, 2017). He states that good leadership, including contextual intelligence and personal health during this transformational period, is pertinent (Schwab, 2017). Schwab (2017) further explains that the treasure trove of data, the powerful visions for humanity and unique insights will be highly required to meet the challenges of the revolution. One of the theses is the idea that for any individual or organisation to remain relevant, massive adjustment is required.

Real-Life Examples

The fact that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is moving at lightning speed is understood because today, the world is closely interconnected and rich in technology. The transformation has an exponential evolvement; however, this does not happen linearly. For instance, Schwab (2017) offers to consider a smartphone: the iPhone was invented in 2007, but by 2016, a mere nine years later, there were more than two billion users of smartphones. Within the same period, the smartphone technology developed to unprecedented levels that would not be thought of in 2007 when it was invented (Schwab, 2017). Thus, technologies are transforming the world at a rate that was not expected.

In his book, Schwab (2017) takes readers on a tour of the economic, social and technological revolutions. The writer explains the opportunities and challenges that humans can face in the near future. The book is written in bullet points, which is the method that is commonly used by think tanks when presenting their reports. The author does not provide many discursive arguments, opinions and illustrations. Schwab (2017) utilises the executive jargon that is specifically meant for those leaders who wish to know how to navigate the period of rapid disruptive changes. As an essential argument, the suggestion is made that for people to overcome the challenges of disruptive changes, they should avoid linear thinking.

The best approach that may help people overcome the difficulties is to formulate new forms of employment and social contracts. Schwab (2017) makes his position known when he challenges individuals and organisations that face the revolutions to design news ways that will accommodate the adjustments. The journey will require the honesty and flexibility of organisations to inculcate agility and speed in their operations. To understand the aim and purpose of this book, one needs to consider the work of Davos. Most of his writings have a holistic approach to what is currently happening in society and what challenges are anticipated (Schwab, 2017). The book enlightens readers so that they could have a deep understanding of the fourth revolution.

This is a book that is recommended for reading because it offers readers to assess different benefits and challenges that people are expected to encounter during this revolution. It shows that the Fourth Industrial Revolution leads society to unfamiliar territories. Therefore, one needs to be prepared by having a deep understanding of what the current transformations entail and how one can capitalise on it (Schwab, 2017). Leaders need to know how to cushion society from this new disruptive technology because it will change the way people live today.


The book in question is useful to read to understand how society will adapt to the changes that are taking place today. Other forms of transformations will occur at the workplace and at the family level, thereby proving Schwab’s (2017) assumptions about the implications of the revolution on everyone. Therefore, one should read this book to understand the scope of changes and the measures to mitigate some potentially negative implications. In addition, the economic and political scopes of people will be affected, and the book contains relevant discussions. As Schwab (2017) notes, after one gets equipped with this information, they will be better placed to design strategies that will prevent them from the negative effects of transformations. Therefore, the book may be of interest to those who are eager to know where they are heading to as both individuals and society members.

The book is valuable for policymakers, corporate leaders and citizens who want to gain the skills on how to navigate the challenges ahead, which have been brought by the changes in technology. Schwab (2017) argues that the profound transformation explained in the book will affect all the sectors of society handled. The information in the book reminds society that through collective power, the revolution is sustainable and inclusive. The digital tools applied will define how individuals conduct their businesses and identify global issues, for instance, climate problems (Schwab, 2017). Technology will be the key factor in determining how humanity will live.

As a result, for a good understanding of how society is changing technologically, this is the best book to read. Schwab (2017) uses a language that is easy to understand, and the examples given are relevant to contemporary society, which makes the book a useful source of information. The author is an authority in the field of leadership and has been dealing with governments, civil society and the private sector for more than forty years. Therefore, most of the information is based on Schwab’s (2017) personal experience. If one wants to enter the future while informed comprehensively, they should read this book.


The book addresses pertinent transformational matters that have already begun affecting individuals, organisations and governments. Therefore, all the social sectors need to adjust the way they operate so that they do not find themselves in a situation when they cannot function properly. If all the spheres get prepared in advance, this may simplify the transformation process, and technological changes can bring essential gains to utilise for the benefit of human development.


Schwab, K. (2017). The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Broadway Business.

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