4th Industrial Revolution in the Post COVID-19 Era
From digital disruption to digital restoration
As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the world, paralysing many aspects of normal life, attention must now turn to how the Fourth Industrial Revolution can be leveraged to restore our economies and our society, taking us from an era of digital disruption to an era of digital restoration.
There have been many debates around the disruptive, and in some cases, the destabilsing nature of the Fourth Industrial Revolution with regards to employment, business sustainability, and global prosperity. However, the crisis surrounding the current pandemic is casting a new lens on the power of technology to assess how it can be utilised as a force for global restoration, allowing businesses to continue to operate, providing communities with tools to keep them connected, and restructuring supply chains to overcome the recent disruption to global markets.
Companies such as Lonati SpA, an Italian manufacturing company, has 3D printed ventilator valves to address domestic shortages. Other examples include a robot named ‘Little Peanut’ that is being deployed to deliver food to people who have been quarantined; and Baidu, a Chinese technology company, is using artificial intelligence technology and computing resources to predict the secondary structure of the Covid-19 RNA sequence to help accelerate the development of a vaccine.
Technology can also help restore normal business activities through the use of blockchain to securely and remotely sign and exchange documents, or enable workforce training and development, or even process certification and qualification, through widely used digital communication platforms.
History demonstrates that innovation has proven to be an effective tool in solving the world’s toughest challenges time and again, while also being the driving force behind the advancement of humanity and global prosperity. In a world where many discussions are taking place around some of the negative implications of 4IR technologies, it is times like this that we should encourage policymakers to streamline and fast track regulations that allow certain technologies, such as autonomous mobility, to restore many parts of our daily lives and help us overcome unprecedented challenges.