Monday, August 22, 2016

Dr. Faulkner: The Fourth Industrial Revolution

I prepared this blog entry back in the Spring before I decided I would make this part of my convocation address.  Some of this you heard already.  Some is additional information.

I just finished reading The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab (World Economic Forum, 2016).  In the book, Schwab proposes that we are in the midst of another revolution.  The first revolution was the transition from foraging to farming, the second the industrial revolution which transitioned us from muscle power to mechanical power and the third which is usually called the computer or digital revolution.  The book outlines that what we are experiencing is not merely a continuation of the digital revolution.  To support the concept, the author lists factors such as the exponential velocity of changes, the breadth and depth of the changes, and the fact that the changes involve the transformation of entire systems.  Schwab cites megatrends in three main areas of change.  First he refers to changes in the physical manifestation including autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, advanced robotics, and new materials.  The second area is in the digital realm pointing mainly to the Internet of Things (IofT).  And finally the book explores innovations in the biological realm pointing to 3D printed organs and genetic modification as indicators.

Here are some quotes from the book:

·         -Already in 2012, the Google Inside Search team published that it takes about the same amount of computing to answer one Google Search query as all the computing done – in flight and on the ground – for the entire Apollo program!
·         -The Ford GT has 10 million lines of computer code in it.
·         -The new model of the popular VW Golf has 54 computer processing units; as many as 700 data points get processed in the vehicle generating six gigabytes of data per car.  (I wonder how many are used to circumvent pollution laws.)
·         -More than 50 billion devices are expected to be connected to the internet by 2020.  Even the Milky Way, the earth’s galaxy, contains only around 200 billion suns!
·         -Already last year, according to BMW 8% of cars worldwide, or 84 million, were connected to the internet in some way.

This is a picture I made of a 3D printed car that was on display at an innovation conference held in Nashville last year.

All these parts of the fourth revolution will lead to new ways of doing business and new approaches to wealth i.e. Bitcoin.  How companies do business will be drastically different.  From the book:

·         -Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles.  Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content.  Alibaba, the most valuable retailer has no inventory.  And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.

The horizon for these changes is the year 2025.  It is interesting that this coincides with our own state Drive to 55 efforts.

The questions for us are:
·         -How will this change the ways we conduct the business of the college?
·         -How will this change the ways we deliver instruction?
·         -How will this change the expectations of students?
·         -How can we capitalize on these changes to be more efficient, effective and above all, more relevant?


Viva la Revolución!

-Dr. Jerrry Faulkner

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