The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Daniel Oberhaus, Motherboard:

The fourth industrial revolution, more commonly known as “Industry 4.0,” derives its name from a 2011 initiative spearheaded by businessmen, politicians, and academics, who defined it as a means of increasing the competitiveness of Germany’s manufacturing industries through the increasing integration of “cyber-physical systems,” or CPS, into factory processes.

CPS is basically a catch-all term for talking about the integration of smart, internet-connected machines and human labor. Factory managers are not simply reimagining the assembly line, but actively creating a network of machines that not only can produce more with fewer errors, but can autonomously alter their production patterns in accordance with external inputs while still retaining a high degree of efficiency.

One of many cool things that could come out of Industry 4.0 is customized just-in-time mass manufacturing. For instance, custom Adidas shoes that fit your left foot and your right foot perfectly, and just when you need it. I can imagine waste, in terms of making too much, being almost completely eliminated; bye-bye 80% clearance sales. Industry 4.0 also means most manufacturing jobs currently filled with people will be given to robots.

I want to think new jobs will be created such as robot repairmen (both mechanical and software), robot software developers, robot mechanical engineers, robot artificial intelligence coders, robot quality assurance testers, robot recyclers, robot parts manufacturers, etc. But no, robots can fill these roles too, if robots are equipped with A.I.