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The Fourth Industrial Revolution

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World-renowned economist Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, explains that we have an opportunity to shape the fourth industrial revolu­tion, which will fundamentally alter how we live and work.

Schwab argues that this revolution is different in scale, scope and complexity from any that have come before. Characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, the developments are affecting all disciplines, economies, industries and governments, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.

Artificial intelligence is already all around us, from supercomputers, drones and virtual assistants to 3D printing, DNA sequencing, smart thermostats, wear­able sensors and microchips smaller than a grain of sand. But this is just the beginning: nanomaterials 200 times stronger than steel and a million times thinner than a strand of hair and the first transplant of a 3D printed liver are already in development. Imagine “smart factories” in which global systems of manu­facturing are coordinated virtually, or implantable mobile phones made of biosynthetic materials.

The fourth industrial revolution, says Schwab, is more significant, and its ramifications more profound, than in any prior period of human history.

He outlines the key technologies driving this revolution and discusses the major impacts expected on government, business, civil society and individu­als. Schwab also offers bold ideas on how to harness these changes and shape a better future—one in which technology empowers people rather than replaces them; progress serves society rather than disrupts it; and in which innovators respect moral and ethical boundaries rather than cross them. We all have the opportunity to contribute to developing new frame­works that advance progress.

198 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 1, 2016

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About the author

Klaus Schwab

43 books202 followers
Klaus Martin Schwab is a German engineer and economist best known as the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.

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Profile Image for Clif Hostetler.
1,056 reviews679 followers
November 25, 2021
The author Klaus Schwab is a German-born business professor at the University of Geneva. He was founder of the World Economic Forum in 1971. The WEF facilitates the meeting of business and political leaders, selected intellectuals, and journalists to discuss the future of global economics.

The central theme of the 2016 meeting of the Forum focused on the Fourth Industrial Revolution as defined and discussed by Professor Schwab in a lengthy essay published in Foreign Affairs in 2015. This book is essentially an expanded version of that essay plus some added material which are the results of canvassing the meeting participants regarding when various technological breakthroughs will reach their respective tipping points. Some of the results of this survey is included in the Appendix of this book.

This book provides a thorough discussion of the possible future impacts of these changes. The author is willing to acknowledge the possible detrimental results, but then he goes on to say the others predict more optimistic outcomes. I get the impression that the author was trying to be objective, but consequently his reluctance to advocate for a particular position makes this book dry reading material.

I was very dissatisfied with the chapter titled "The Way Forward" near the end of the book's message. I was looking forward to some sort of recommended plan for making the necessary adjustments for society to adapt to the coming economic changes. Instead the message I took from that chapter were generalities such as the following:
"... we must adapt, shape and harness the potential of disruption by nurturing and applying four different types of intelligence:
— contextual (the mind) ...
— emotional (the hear) ...
— inspired (the soul) ...
— physical (the body) ...
The author elaborates on these, but I found these discussions to be lacking specifics.

The following is a listing of the anticipated future technological advancements and their respective tipping point dates based on a survey of 800 business executives. They were asked to gage when they anticipate that these game-changing technologies will break into the public domain to a significant degree. The percentage listed next to the items below is the percentage of survey respondants that believed that the tipping point would be achieved by the year 2025.
1. Implantable Technologies—82%
2. Our Digital Presence—84%
3. Vision as the New Interface—86%
4. Wearable Internet—91%
5. Ubiquitous Computing—79%
6. A Supercomputer in Your Pocket—81%
7. Storage for All—91%
8. The Internet of & for Things—89%
9. The Connected Home—70%
10. Smart Cities—64%
11. Big Data for Decisions—83%
12. Driverless Cars—79%
13. A.I. & Decision Making—45%
14. A.I. & White-Collar Jobs—75%
15. Robotics and Services—86%
16. Bitcoin & the Blockchain—58%
17. The Sharing Economy—67%
18. Governments & the Blockchain—73%
19. 3D Printing & Manufacturing—84%
20. 3D Printing & Human Health—76%
21. 3D Printing & Consumer Products—81%
22. Designer Beings—vote result not shown
23. Neurotechnologies—vote result not shown
Each of the above anticipated technological advances are thoroughly described in the Appendix along with the above survey results.

Numbering of the Revolutions
In my opinion there is no fourth industrial revolution. What this author is calling the fourth industrial revolution is simply a continuation of the third. I get the impression from this book that he thinks the current situation deserves its own label because of the speed of change. But exponential rates of change occurred during the Third Industrial Revolution; it's just that at this point in time the changes appear really fast. That's what exponential rates do.

The following are the definitions of the various industrial revolutions as used by this book:
1. The Machine Age (1760-1840): The Steam Engine, Railroads
2. Mass Production (late 19th - early 20th c): Assembly Line Manufacturing, Electricity
3. The Digital Revolution (from mid 1960s-): Computers, Semiconductors, Internet
4. The Fourth IR: Ubiquitous Mobile Internet, Internet of Things (IoT) with Sensors, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Gene Sequencing, Nanotechnology
The following is not from the book, but it provides a graphic that helps explain the various revolutions:


Here's a link to an explanation of the "Internet of Things":
Profile Image for Trevor.
1,278 reviews21.3k followers
July 26, 2018
This book is written by the founder of the World Economic Forum, and one of the things I’ve noticed is that if you want to read a horror story about what is about to happen to jobs, then reading reports from WEF or the IMF are of Stephen King scale terror. Basically, all hell is about to break loose and even the masters of capitalism are terrified about what that might mean.

The problem, as so many other books I’ve read recently on this topic say, has most to do with exponential growth. And the problem with this is that we humans struggle to think in terms of exponential growth, we generally have enough trouble understanding linear growth.

And this isn’t like the changes we have witnessed before. As he says here, the iPhone is essentially a super computer that sits in our pockets. The changes that are about to happen as these things continue to gain power and as more things become connected to the internet than people are connected, and we start to have tattoos and shirts that are digitally connected too, and... – like I said, while reading this I started to feel as if I was looking over the edge of a cliff.

I’m going to quote the bits of this that I found particularly terrifying. A couple of them I’ve mentioned before in other reviews – this first one has become my mantra to people when they ask me what I’ve been researching. But here he gives a fuller explanation of the problem:

“According to an estimate from the Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment, only 0.5% of the US workforce is employed in industries that did not exist at the turn of the century, a far lower percentage than the approximately 8% of new jobs created in new industries during the 1980s and the 4.5% of new jobs created during the 1990s.”

And there is the problem. Much of the shift in the economy towards new industries in this new industrial revolution is clearly making it redundant to do a remarkable number of things that we have done for a long time. There are predictions that soon paralegals, accounts clerks, secretaries, and administration officers will be job titles with the same nostalgic appeal as hansom cab driver and blacksmith. But the new industries simply have not been creating new jobs at the same rate as they are about to start destroying them. And this is a significant new trend. The way this argument is meant to go is that all revolutions make some jobs extinct, but they also increase productivity and in doing so create more wealth which creates new demands which in turn creates even more jobs. Except that too many of the new industries don’t seem to work like that – my other favourite example I've being telling people is of Instagram being a billion-dollar company what when it was purchased and yet it only employed a total of 13 people.

All of which is about to be made very much worse by the other exponentially growing problem we face, inequality. As he says here, the richest one-percent of the world owns half of everything. He quotes The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better which says that more equal societies are often better on a wide range of measures (health, education, happiness) while less equal societies are worse off (crime, prison population, infant mortality). You need to remember who is telling us this – whatever you think of the WEF, this is certainly not a crazy left-wing fringe group. If they are saying beware, it is time to listen.

The best of this book isn’t really in the book itself, but rather in the appendix. This has a list of 23 trends that are about to become ‘deep shifts’. He bases this bit of the book on surveys the WEF did with 800 executives. They were asked about these 23 trends and if they thought that by 2025 they would have reached their ‘tipping point’. For most of these the answer is yes. He then goes through the costs and benefits of each.

Look, even if you are Pollyanna and you think that the changes we are about to experience will be infinitely positive and make our lives incomparably better, you will still recognise that the changes about to hit us are going to cause untold disruption. That, in itself, might not be a terrible thing, the problem is that the ‘new jobs’ – whatever they are likely to be – are going to require people ‘up-skilling’, and one only needs to look at the problem of ‘student debt’ in the US and elsewhere to know that isn’t going to be at all easy for people to achieve – particularly not those on the bottom of the pile who have no current skills and no history of gaining skills through the education system. How they are supposed to suddenly go from being a truck driver to being a web designer isn’t in the least bit clear to me.

This is coupled with the assessment of the author's that “employment will grow in high-income cognitive and creative jobs and low-income manual occupations, but will greatly diminish for middle-income routine and repetitive jobs”. And this is predicted to impact women more than men. As he explains, “While it is difficult to map the competencies and skills expected in industries not yet created, we can reasonably assume that demand will increase for skills that enable workers to design, build and work alongside technological systems, or in areas that fill the gaps left by these technological innovations.”

And that means men:

“Because men still tend to dominate computer science, mathematical and engineering professions, increased demand for specialized technical skills may exacerbate gender inequalities. Yet demand may grow for roles that machines cannot fulfil and which rely on intrinsically human traits and capabilities such as empathy and compassion. Women are prevalent in many such occupations including psychologists, therapists, coaches, event planners, nurses and other providers of healthcare.”

And while that is true, many of those occupations are often relatively low paid, and worse, they are often what Nancy Frazer refers to as pink-collar jobs – although, ghettos would perhaps be just as accurate. The other problem is that while governments increasingly struggle to raise tax revenue, and wages haven’t risen in real terms for decades, it isn’t clear where the money to pay for these ‘services’ will come from.

Like I said at the start, none of this makes for happy reading.
Profile Image for Finny.
206 reviews24 followers
December 27, 2020
''Consider 'Remote Monitoring,' a widespread application of the [Internet of Things]. Any package, pallet, or container can now be equipped with a sensor, transmitter, or radio frequency identification (RFID) tag that allows a company to track where it is as it moves through the supply chain, how it is performing, how it is being used, and so on. Similarly, customers can continuously track actively in real time the progress of the package or document they are expecting. For companies that are in the business of operating long and complex supply chains, this is transformative. In the near future similar monitoring systems will also be applied to the movement and tracking of people''

Much has been said about Klaus Schwab over the last year or so.
He's been called a communist, a fascist, a genius visionary ushering in a beautiful future, and the most dangerous man on Earth.
He is none of these things.

If this book is anything to go by, Klaus Schwab is something much scarier: a moderately educated arch-globalist neoliberal utopian who wants a society run by socially conscious corporations, and for the freedoms, cultures, and individual agencies of the world's populations to be dismantled in favour of an oppressive but pleasant consumer comfort within a global monoculture of Starbucks, Amazon, and Netflix.

Claims of an elite desire for a one world government have been circulating for decades. But, regardless of the validity of those historical claims, it seems that something akin to a global government is what Klaus Schwab is aiming for.
Throughout the book, Klaus claims to want a global narrative, a global culture, a global economy, and a global legislative system.
He decries the desire for individual national cultures to survive and thrive as irrational and small-minded. And he doesn't seem to see any point in borders or nations—though this last part is never explicitly stated, he makes frequent reference to global free movement, and international economies, international legislative bodies, and international cultures superseding national ones.
Whether you consider that to be a true a one world government is up for debate, but it's undoubtable that he wants the world's various nations to gradually converge on a universalist consumer society that aims to make Mogadishu, Venice, and Tokyo functionally identical.

The most worrying thing about all of this is that Klaus and his IMF seem to have the ear of all major supranational governing bodies and most major Western governments. He's becoming a major player in the design and development of global policy.

Something particularly distressing about this is that Klaus's worldview—and his desire for rapid structural changes encompassing everything from environmental policy to the family unit—seems to be, if his citations are anything to go by, based almost entirely on his readings of popular science and economics bestsellers from the likes of Jared Diamond and Naomi Klein.
This should terrify you.

And, as would be expected from a futurist whose predictions are entirely based on books that populate Buzzfeed and Vox top 10 lists, this book is riddled with factual inaccuracies and gross oversimplifications.
One particularly frustrating recurring argument is Schwab's insistence that entropy is defeatable via a 'circular economy.'
He seems to think that recycling, for example, requires no energy and produces no waste.
In his fantasy world, recycling is a zero sum game where putting a bottle in the magic bottle bank makes a freshly refilled bottle instantaneously appear on supermarket shelves.
It's a child's understanding of the world.

In fact, that was something I couldn't help but think the whole time I was reading this book: The Fourth Industrial Revolution feels like it was written by a teenager.
The intellectual immaturity pervades every aspect of the book, from the oversimplification of existing processes—and the fundamental refusal to acknowledge system complexity—to the constant references to conceptual inventions by university design students that went viral on social media, and the complete inability/refusal to acknowledge the potential negative outcomes of ideas even as patently dangerous as 'smart dust.'

At one point Klaus references mass data collection, and thus the ability for corporations and governments to predict and preempt the behaviours of virtually everyone who's ever had even a moderate internet presence.
He says the only risk of danger here is activist hackers hacking into the system to shut it down, meaning the public no longer has access to the benefits of the algorithms.
He refuses to acknowledge, in any meaningful way, that bad actors—states, corporations, or private individuals—would ever use this data to nefarious ends.
He denies the dangers despite saying that this data could even be used to predict and prevent crimes.

It's also interesting to note that, on the rare occasions when Klaus does acknowledge the potential downsides of his predictions, these downsides rarely (if ever) include the damages that might be caused to our psychologies, relationships, cultures, and societies.

All impacts are seen only through a business lens.
And, it's ever so curious to note that all of Klaus's predictions for future business disruption prove disastrous for everyone except those who are members of the elite business class.
According to his predictions, human authors will likely soon be replaced by algorithms that write on-demand books for users, fulfilling their every narrative and aesthetic desire.
On the other hand, 'the human touch' is apparently vitally important for high-level banking and asset trading—even if the people up top sometimes take advice from computer systems.
Painters will soon be replaced by robot arms with rudimentary AI systems, but Wall Street will forever remain human.
Funny that.

I could keep writing this review and pulling apart every page of this book, but this review is already far too long.
So here are some bullet points briefly outlining parts of the book the deserve entire reviews to themselves:
• Klaus repeatedly expresses admiration for China style social credit systems. He says at one point that he thinks a 'Yelp for people' is something he would like to see established in the next decade.
• Klaus seems to be under the impression that material comfort is the highest possible goal humanity can strive for. Everything else can be destroyed, deconstructed, or replaced to attain total material comfort.
• Klaus believes that monopolies are actually a good thing. He says that people focus too much on the bad business practises they engender, while ignoring that monopolies are just convenient. Ideally, each business sector would have one massive company that completely controls that sector, providing maximum convenience to the consumer.
• Klaus considers grassroots Western political extremism and/or populism in Europe to be the single most dangerous threat currently facing the world.
• Klaus considers europeans too inflexible to survive The Fourth Revolution, and claims they should learn to adapt to the changes to their societies—including mass third world immigration, social decay, and decimation of the labour force—that he and his friends have engineered to keep the various national economies in a state of perpetual growth. It's not so bad, he says, and staving off corporate entropy is clearly far more important than suicide rates, social cohesion, and cultural erosion.
• Klaus wants breathable nanobots floating about everywhere on Earth, perpetually flooding people with dopamine so they're unable to feel depression. He says that when they're sufficiently advanced the nanobots could even read your mind to seek out and destroy bad memories, keeping the entire society in a perpetual state of technological euphoria. This is one of the book's most horrifying moments.
• Klaus thinks Steve Jobs invented the idea of for-profit downloadable computer/mobile software. (I'm not joking.)

I guess one final thing worth pointing out is that, despite the massive revisions to the global economy that Klaus seeks to engineer, he only actually cites 3 economic theorists in the book:
1. Paul Krugman
2. John Maynard Keynes
3. Karl Marx
Make of that what you will.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a bad book.
It's sub-mediocre futurism, with barely any worthwhile references, no consideration for the human element, and a disturbing trend toward gleeful dystopia.

And, maybe worst of all, it's boring. Very, very boring.
Profile Image for Lisa.
971 reviews3,332 followers
November 2, 2018
"Hence, conversations among educators and developers about the ethical standards that should apply to emerging technologies of the fourth industrial revolution are urgently needed to establish common ethical guidelines and embed them in society and culture."

It is interesting to read an appeal to educators in a book by the founder of the World Economic Forum in Davos. After describing the massive paradigm shifts that we are currently experiencing due to what Klaus Schwab calls the fourth industrial revolution, he admits that we are facing difficult responsibilities which cannot be solved by the ever advancing technologies alone. In order to make the era of machine learning and artificial intelligence fruitful rather than disastrous for humankind, international treaties are needed, but they are insufficient - as they tend to lag behind the technological status quo.

While opening up fantastic possibilities, especially in health care and communication, the new developments need to be controlled and adjusted to prevent negative aspects from dominating. Increasing inequality, and with it increasing injustice and violence, as well as the growing threat of total surveillance in the digital sphere are the downsides of a mindbogglingly fast change in society, ruled by around-the-clock interconnectedness.

The appendix, listing the many technological shifts and their impact, both positive and negative, on society as a whole, is well worth studying, as the different developments in various business areas interlink in their effects on wellbeing and privacy.

Profile Image for Book.
725 reviews134 followers
March 26, 2016
The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution” is an average to above average book about the forces of disruption and the innovation shaping our future. Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, describes how technology and society coexist, and makes the case that we are in the midst of a fourth and distinct revolution. This 199-page succinct book includes the following three chapters: 1. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, 2. Drivers, and 3. Impact.

1. A well-written, straightforward book.
2. Mastery of the topic.
3. Makes perfectly clear what this book is all about in the introduction. “In writing this book, my intention is to provide a primer on the fourth industrial revolution - what it is, what it will bring, how it will impact us, and what can be done to harness it for the common good.”
4. Provides the three main goals of this book and “Above all, this book aims to emphasize the way in which technology and society co-exist.”
5. Provides historical context of the industrial revolution. “The first industrial revolution spanned from about 1760 to around 1840. Triggered by the construction of railroads and the invention of the steam engine, it ushered in mechanical production.”
6. He makes a strong case for a fourth industrial revolution. “I believe that today we are at the beginning of a fourth industrial revolution. It began at the turn of this century and builds on the digital revolution. It is characterized by a much more ubiquitous and mobile internet, by smaller and more powerful sensors that have become cheaper, and by artificial intelligence and machine learning.”
7. Explains what makes the fourth industrial revolution different from previous revolutions.
8. Spells out his two main concerns with the fourth industrial revolution. The challenges created by it.
9. The three main drivers behind the fourth industrial revolution. “I have organized the list into three clusters: physical, digital and biological.”
10. Goes over some of the key features of the three driving clusters; the technological advances.
11. Describes the scale and breadth of impact of the revolution. “In all these areas, one of the biggest impacts will likely result from a single force: empowerment – how governments relate to their citizens; how enterprises relate to their employees, shareholders and customers; or how superpowers relate to smaller countries. The disruption that the fourth industrial revolution will have on existing political, economic and social models will therefore require that empowered actors recognize that they are part of a distributed power system that requires more collaborative forms of interaction to succeed.”
12. Goes over key global demographics.
13. Provides support for his pragmatic optimism. “The fourth industrial revolution has the potential both to increase economic growth and to alleviate some of the major global challenges we collectively face. We need, however, to also recognize and manage the negative impacts it can have, particularly with regard to inequality, employment and labour markets.”
14. The direct impact on employment. “To get a grasp on this, we have to understand the two competing effects that technology exercises on employment. First, there is a destruction effect as technology-fuelled disruption and automation substitute capital for labour, forcing workers to become unemployed or to reallocate their skills elsewhere. Second, this destruction effect is accompanied by a capitalization effect in which the demand for new goods and services increases and leads to the creation of new occupations, businesses and even industries.”
15. The main negatives. “So far, the evidence is this: The fourth industrial revolution seems to be creating fewer jobs in new industries than previous revolutions.”
16. Provides helpful boxes that capture a specific issue and how it relates with the fourth industrial revolution. The first box illustrates the impact on gender issues.
17. The four major impacts on business. “The fourth industrial revolution has four main effects on business across industries: – customer expectations are shifting – products are being enhanced by data, which improves asset productivity – new partnerships are being formed as companies learn the importance of new forms of collaboration, and – operating models are being transformed into new digital models.”
18. The roles that governments must assume to master the fourth industrial revolution. “When assessing the impact of the fourth industrial revolution on governments, the use of digital technologies to govern better is top-of-mind. More intense and innovative use of web technologies can help public administrations modernize their structures and functions to improve overall performance, from strengthening processes of e-governance to fostering greater transparency, accountability and engagement between the government and its citizens.”
19. Some interesting side topics discussed, like cyber warfare.
20. The way forward and helpful appendices.

1. Lacks panache. The book is dry and lacks engagement.
2. An excellent topic that the author did not take advantage of. Lacks depth.
3. There are better books on this topic; The Second Machine Age written by Brynjolfsson and referenced in this book is far superior.
4. The format is lackluster and the book is uneven.
5. Repetitive.
6. No notes or links to notes.
7. No formal bibliography.

In summary, I have to say I was mildly disappointed with this book; it lacked engagement and panache. That stated, Schwab does provide some interesting observations of the current state of affairs and does a good job of making the case for being in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution. Good effort but should have been better. Read if interested in the topic.

Further recommendations: “The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies” by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, “Race Against the Machine” by the same authors, “Rise of the Robots” by Martin Ford, “Our Final Invention” by James Barrat, “Tomorrowland” by Steven Kotler, “Singularity Is Near” by Ray Kurzwell, “The Price of Inequality” by Joseph Stiglitz, “Why Nations Fail” by Daron Acemoglu, and “Saving Capitalism” by Robert B. Reich.
Profile Image for Bernard O'Leary.
304 reviews57 followers
December 1, 2016
I wrote a 1200 word review of this and then my laptop crashed and I lost it, so here's the gist:

* Interesting to read a senior economist speak about likely macroeconomic changes resulting from technology
* Despite his cautious optimism, we're clearly all screwed
* Brace yourself for an era of mass unemployment

Good read though - lots of facts and figures and graphs and data.
Profile Image for Tara Brabazon.
Author 22 books316 followers
March 30, 2018
Ohhhhh, I'd love to write an alternative version of this book.

The usual suspects are here, that we see in all Schwab's books. Disruption. Drones. Networking. Speed.


But what is interesting is just the hint of what happens to labour - to workers - through this fourth industrial revolution.

Bottom line. Fewer people are required to complete work. So less people will be needed in the workplace. So fewer people will be paid...

Therefore, labour surplus will increase. Therefore more people will be applying for fewer jobs. Therefore, wages will go down and more workers will have to move to take up this work. Worker mobility will increase.

Not only is technology disruptive, but there will be disruption to wages, locations of work, family structures, health and educational provision.

Therefore, inequality will actually increase. The holders of capital will increase their power. Those with only their labour to sell will reduce in their power. The double freedom becomes less potent and relevant because of labour surplus.

This is not what Klaus Schwab argued. He did express concern - actually not concern, but awareness - that fewer workers will be required. He also expressed awareness about what will happen to cities, particularly global cities, if physical infrastructure is neglected.

There are many stories to tell about the Fourth Industrial Revolution. These alternative stories start with the argument that 'disruption' may be beneficial for those who make money. But for those with homes and mortgages, families, educational and health responsibilities, this 'agile' economy will not disrupt, but destroy.

Profile Image for Boni Aditya.
303 reviews886 followers
July 22, 2019
This book does not need to exist. This isn't a book either. What could be written in a blog post is dragged into a book.

The author simply explains i.e. interprets the WEF report for us in this book. The only value addition of this book is at the end, i.e. in the appendix which is more than enough to sum up this book.

The title of the book should be changed to - Comments on the WEF Report or A Casual interpretation of the WEF Report. The author almost adds no value to the report. He makes no predictions what so ever about the future, this is a generic discourse or a discussion about the report and its implications. Any sane person who reads the report is quite capable of deriving these conclusions all by themselves.

Anybody reading a few science magazines or reading a few science blogs or following the Futurist pages on the Facebook, is completely aware of all of the predictions made in this book. Gizmodo, Economist, The Futurist and other sections have talked about each of these scenarios at length.

I just had to waste tons of time to read through this book, only to get little or no value add. His stance is like that of a cat on the wall, he never takes a stance, he simply states that anything could happen! Playing with probabilities and probabilities, and playing with the good and the bad, he rants on and on about the WEF report. All the while throwing in a few jargon, without actually pursuing anything at a deeper level. The whole book is extremely shallow is a very badly written, i.e. it isn't written with the end user in mind. It felt like reading a text book!

Any way here is a list of books that the author has mentioned during the course of this book

The second machine age

Free agent nation

The shift

The spirit level
Profile Image for TarasProkopyuk.
686 reviews94 followers
February 27, 2017
Казалось бы немыслимые и фантастические вещи, которые возможны только в фантастических фильмах и книгах уже на пороге нашего времени.

Внимание, книга не о футорологии, а уже наступающей действительности! Поэтому будет интересней и полезней для аналитиков, менеджеров, предпринимателей и широкого круга интересующихся.

К чему должно быть готово общество и бизнес уже в ближайшие годы? Что и как будет меняться, в каких отраслях, какими прогнозами обладают ведущие мировые эксперты? Книга явно не ответит на все эти вопросы, но автор, экономист и президент Всемирного экономического форума в Давосе, сделал очень важные акценты и указал из какой стороны ждать ветра стремительных перемен, чтобы остаться в строю и не быть волной изменений четвертой промышленной революции.
Profile Image for Steve.
49 reviews4 followers
March 8, 2019
So far the worst book I've read this year.

A summary: Change is definitely happening. It'll be good, but maybe also bad. We should cooperate to make it more good than bad.

Far more fluff than substance. With many potential downsides glossed over or entirely absent.

I gave the second star mostly for the appendix which at least goes into some detail about what changes the World Economic Forum's experts believe will be a reality by 2025.

It's possible this book was better in 2016 and I hope so. But for anyone trying to see the cutting edge in 2019 it's worthless. Among the more lackluster sections was the section on security which didn't even try to figure out how increased autonomy and plummeting drone costs would affect security. Mentioned hacking in warfare, but not that it's been increasingly deployed as part of military and paramilitary operations since the United States' first Gulf War. It didn't even mention how hacking has given less developed economies a chance to rapidly catch up by stealing from more developed countries.

None of that was hard to see in 2015 when it was written. I'd have thought someone with the prestige of the world economic forum could have found a security expert to ghostwrite a bit. Actually, I hope the whole thing was ghostwritten.

At its best, though it's uneven here, it does a good job of introducing the range of possible outcomes such as in the challenges of technological unemployment. But more often it gives a few general examples and doesn't try to forecast how they might combine or change culture.

If you need to convince someone that important people think technology is changing society maybe it's good for that. But I'm not sure why you'd need this book rather than just pointing outside.

Profile Image for Lenox.
1 review
July 26, 2018
For a book with no bibliography that only generally cites his own organization’s research, Schwab’s writing seems to be based largely on speculation. He praises Uber multiple times throughout the book, but fails to mention their exploitive labor practices in the section on ethics (or anywhere really). In fact, Schwab fails to mention anything that actually matters: the people affected by increasing income equality, climate change, literally ANYTHING relevant to our future. He does, however, assure us that one day robots will be writing the books we read and I guess the silver lining there is that I won’t have to read another book by this out of touch dickwad.
34 reviews
February 10, 2017
The fourth revolution. Written on my mobile phone mainly to keep notes.. pardon the poor grammar :)
1. What it means and how to respond:
a. Highlight a couple of areas: artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, IOT, autonomous cars, biotechnology, quantum computing, material science, 3D printing, robotics
b. Talks about income gap. And that he expects the dis-satisfaction to grow. People have unrealistic expectations of what qualifies as good income.
c. Talks about the 4th revolutions dehumanizing society, humanity losing compassion and cooperation
d. That governments which usually take too long to make laws maynot be able to respond in the same way as before. There has to be a faster way to do things.
e. There will be drastic changes in the way we do things. There will be quantification of self and human augmentation. We might become kind of robots.
2. How to make almost anything
a. 3d printing has become widespread, however 3d printing is not going to be replacing lathe or other machines. This is because 3d printing is still very slow compared to these devices.
b. Calls to protect 3d printing because of fear of manufacture of automatic weapons. However the fear is miniscule because people wont be easily able to manufacture these weapons.
c. The center for bits and atoms at MIT has been replicated at multiple locations. They provide jobs and expertise to a lot of people. The 4th revolution will enable use to convert data into things and things into data.
3. As objects go online
a. Talks about the very fast development of the internet, compared to what the pioneers expected. BITNET vs internet. Bitnet was supposed to something like a connection between a terminal and the mainframe. The mainframe did all the computation while the terminal was the point where the instructions were received or transmitted from. Now we have microcontrollers. There could potentially be a bitnet vs internet thing for IOT. If the devices themselve are not fast enough to do all the computations, then it will just act as a terminal to receive and transmsit data from, to the main server which resides in the cloud. Typically this is what is refered to as the IOT.
b. IOT should follow the internet development. Because of security issues. People will trypically try to make the IOT propreitary to make it more profitable for themselves, but it will be vulnerable to security. The internet has shown that when it is open, it can be probed by experts for vulnerabilities. As a result, these come out early and can be patched.
c. IOT will be further enabled ty IPv6, which will have a lot more numbers/alphabets to identify sensors/actuators.
4. The rise of big data
a. Society so far has relied on limited amount of data, because it was difficult to gather a lot of data. Now that limitation has been removed
b. Big data enables us to query N=all, and gather insights about subgroups which were not possible before.
c. It still requires human judgement and hypothesis testing. Its just that the hypothesis testing can happen much faster.
d. Big data relies on data from the past. If you rely on data purely from the past, and you were henry ford, you will try to build a faster horse rather than a mass-market car
e. Propreitary data can lead to monopolies such as google and facebook are doing. How do you make sure that the data being collected doesn’t become a monopoly
f. Privacy concerns: who does the data belong to?
g. Ability to find correlations rather than causations. In this mode of thinking you become ok with relying on inaccurate data, because you can make up for it by usign large amounts of data
5. Mobile finance in the developing world
a. Micro-lending has been hailed in the popular media, however research studies show that their effectiveness maynot be as high as projected in the media.
b. Mobile based finance is much more effective. The ability to quickly send money reduces friction and enables people to engage in entrepreneual activities which in turn help them get out of poverty
c. This also enables acquiring large amounts of data which then enables people to improve the quality of the service. Perhaps this ability to collect data will become a foundation for all products that will be built in the future.
d. Eliminating cash has been shown to be extremely effective in reduce operating costs for India.
e. Even though mobile finance has been very effective, its still very importatn to have local places where cash can be withdrawn within a certain distance.
6. Sythetic biology
a. Talks about some epidemics in synthetic biology such as H5N1, GOF, synthetic biology and H7N9.
b. Talks aobut how to go about control the spread of information about such diseases and that this is really a issue of transfer of information.
c. No standard about the risk of these various diseases, and highlights the huge difficulty in implementing standards.
7. Robotics
a. Author talks about a future of self-driving cars, which reduces traffic by 80%, with much fewer accidents.
b. Says there will be a mix of self driving cars and person driven cars on the road. The self driving car will decide on its own where to get off and how to efficiently route the car for reducing problems in the road.
c. Imagines a future where all the low level stuff that humans are not good at or shouldn’t be spendign time at such as getting breakfast, or going to the mall is robotized.
d. Draws a parallel between ubiquitious computing and robotics. Says the most important discoveries are usually those that people stop noticing.
e. Talks about the current challenge in industrial robotics, where the automakers have robotized 80% of the manufacturing process but electronic manufactures can only do that for 10% of the manufacturing process. This is due to the fact most of the parts change very fast in the electronic industry. Talks about building software which will make it easier to build reconfigurable robots.
8. New world order
a. Quick and easy duplication of digital and non-digital products using robotics, software engineer etc is creating an economy where the people creating the robotics and software are going to be acquiring extreme rewards compared to their efforts
b. Author supports statement by providing facts about the rise of Instagram and the fact that modern CEOs (creatives and decision makers) make 300 times as much as the lowest ranks compared to 70 in previous days.
c. He thinks that outsourcing is just a pathway to automation. Even though China has seen large portion of their population employed due to the low cost of labor, they are going to see a reverse where by these cheap laborers are going to be replaced by robots
d. Challenges the assumption that technology makes everybody more productive (floats everybody's boats). Instead says that it will float or enhance the boats or the top guns way more than that of the others. He gives examples of the CEOs of the biggest companies making way more money than the smaller companies and how the top musicians have way more listeners than the 2nd best.
e. Thinks that there will be a power law distribution in the income of people because the creatives will create ideas which will allow them to grab huge rents. The rest of the population will probably lead happy lives with lots of leisure but there will probably be high income disparity.
f. Encourages everybody to think more entree equally because it these people these problem solvers who will ultimately take the most rents
9. Will humans go the way of horses
a. In the beginning of the 19th century the number of horses grew proportionately with human demand. However with the introduction of the motor, the demand for horses dropped sharply
b. Draws a parallel to human labor which has grown with time proportionately to human demand, but postulates that ai and robotics could be similar to what the motor was to horses.
c. Provides some counter arguments why this might not happen a. Human beings can vote and decide what kinds of technology to allow such that it doesn't take up all of our jobs. b. Human beings like human company. A lot of times we visit a certain restaurant it's not just because of the product but because of the people who serve us. Other examples include coaches etc.(a personal counter argument to this would be Japan, where a lot of what we consider as high touch jobs or activities have been replaced by machines, so the authors argument maynot necessarily hold true in us either) c. Human beings can change unlike horses. Perhaps if one type of labor becomes obsolete the new generation will just pick up another type of labor. D. Human beings can also get income from investment of capital. So perhaps it's possible that all human beings become knowledge workers whose sole job is efficient allocation of resources and no physical labor. E. Possibility that the wall-e type dostopia might be ok for people as they are satisfied with the kind of income they generate and can pursue their passions or leisure just like old kings, who had lots of servants and could just live a cozy life.
d. Provides examples of already existing economic disparities. The top 1% owns 48% of the worlds wealth. Will this trend continue or will revolution such as occupy Wall Street and the revolt against uber and Lyft be able to reverse these trends.
10. Why the techno-optimists are wrong
a. The author Martin wold points to work by Robert Gordon, who has argued that the techno-optimists particularly the authors who wrote the second machine age are wrong. He thinks that the current changes are minuscule especially compared to previous inventions such as the car, power, vacuum cleaner, electric oven etc.
b. He points to the low increase in labor productivity to support his claim especially over the last few decades that technology has become more sophisticated. I don't know whether I would agree on that front. I doubt what I do would have been possible at all without the internet and the other information technologies that power them. However, it is possible that my job is a bit more skewed towards high tech, which is why it seems that way. Second I cannot predict it estimate the per annum productivity gain just off hand and how it compares to before these technologies were invented.
c. He argues that the technologies that were invented in the 19th century were far more consequential and had vastly more unmeasured value to the general public compared to the unmeasured value of things like Facebook or the iPhone. I would agree on that point. However it should be remembered that the previously mentioned technologies such as the tv, electricity, vacuum cleaners etc seeped into society over a very long period of time. There are multiple charts on the internet which show the adoption curves of techniques. Things like the Facebook and the iPhone have vastly faster adoption rates than electricity or color television. So the per annum unmeasured growth in impact of the previous technologies such as electricity may be of the same order or even less than that of things like Facebook.
d. The author uses the point that transport speeds have not increased over a long period of time. I personally think this is largely irrelevant. I would think that the reason the transportation speed hasn't increased has more to do with the human ability to maneauver over busy streets than with technology. Further the transport speed argument would be relevant everything was done serially. Modern transport doesn't happen serially but parallels. I would argue that a lot more trains or cars move parallely on the roads and rail tracks these days due to improve traffic control better roads, better rail tracks and the actual transport speed whole important maynot necessarily reflect the improvement in transport of goods. Further most of our production has shifted to transfer of information not necessarily of good. Transfer of goods happen over the Internet, which can't be measured using the speed of transport on modern roads or rail tracks.
11. Internet of things and its impact
a. The author points to the fact that in 2014 ~10B devices are connected to the Internet. In 2020 50B devices will be connected to the Internet. While it mayb seem it's only a 5X increase I do think that because of the network effect the impact will be way more than 5X improvement.
b. The autho points to the fact that there will be 20trillion$ in value produced by the iot. However at no point does he talk about the cost to realize that value.
c. He talks about connected cities about parking sensors, electric light sensors, gives examples of what cities have done and what strategies cities should take to make cities connected. They give examples of governors winning best governor ever awards for having made cities connected.
d. In all of the above they don't talk about the costs to make these cities conncted and whether the rewards for these cities outweighed the costs.
e. I came out with the feeling that the authors being associated with Cisco are just trying to encourage governors of cities to adopt iot by showing big numbers, potential for awards, etc to encourage them to adopt iot to fill their (cisco's) pockets. The authors don't mention anything about where they got these huge numbers. No bibliography or reference to others. It comes across as a propaganda or marketing ploy.
12. The coming robotic dystopia
a. The author argues about the upcoming robot and human interactions, what will happen when robots will live among humans and learn from humans? Will the consequence of the robots actions be the responsibility of the human or the creator.
b. Talks about the fact that in the near future, ethics needs to be taught to robotics ppl, just like doctors and civil engineers because the consequence of building robots touches the line of ethics
c. Huge implications for law. It might be that society will be come even more litigious
d. Transhumanism might be far off but the author suggests that we need to start thinking about it as we fight the small fight in the near future.
13. Technology and political change
a. The author looks at how the Internet influence political change and democracy and freedom
b. He suggests that it's far more important to encourage conversation among oppressed people than to make social media as powerful as possible.
c. He suggest that instead of focusing on anti censorship applications the us government should focus its efforts on things like access to sms messaging. Followed by Facebook and the like and the ability to gather in public
d. He gives multiple examples of governments being toppled because of texting and assembly of people due to availability of easy texting. However there are counter examples as well. So it's difficult to judge whether texting by itself will lead to a democratic government world wide
14. Do social media make protests possible
a. Gladwell argues based on his visit to lands end that social media hasn't actually solved a problem. Representatives at that store told him that they were more impacted by barcodes and telephone rather than the Internet. It's not too much difficult to take an order by phone vs Internet.
b. Shirley replies that the major change for incumbent players is not internal but external. Amazon has disrupted lands end. Craigslist has disrupted newspapers.
15. The next safety net
a. the author argues that there needs to be a new safety net in society.
b. employment in his opinion will be erratic and people will jump from job to job much faster.
c. talks about different systems that economists have proposed such as mandatory basic income, safety net for all, mandatory health insurance and housing etc. points out flaws in these that they are attacking the demand side not the supply aide.
d. suggests that the best middle ground for the government may be to supplement and help entrepreneurs by removing laws that restrict entrepreneurs activity. instead of providing a basic income or creating more jobs, it may be better to adopt the flexisecurity model of the Nordic nations.
e. people typically don't want to switch jobs because they are afraid of falling through the cracks and not having insurance and the like. the flexisecurity model will provide people that security blanket and allow people to pursue entrepreneurs activities and change jobs when the economy needs it. since the government cannot move as fast as entrepreneurs, they can't compete with them but can help them.
16. the moral code
a. author argues that while robots are primarily limited to manufacturing and battlefields, there will be more robots that will infiltrate human life.
b. these interactions between humans and robots will mean that there will be more conflicts. robots currently follow the orders of their creators without regard for their consequences
c. when there is a conflict between and human and a robot, the robot will have to use some kind of moral compass or guidelines to determine its behavior. the author refers to assimovs rules for robotics but points out that even in assimovs stories these rules got the robots and humans into trouble.
d. points out different strategies that people are pursuing to make robots more moral and more human like. however this is fraught with trouble. 1. humans don't have a single set of morality 2. if you make robots moral by using chips which represent human brains better, you also give it the weakness of humanity selfishness, deception, emotions etc. the reason robots have worked so well is because they don't have the human failings. the challenge maybe that you are trying to create better humans from the ground up without the human failings. 3. if you make robots that smart, robots will start competing with humans for dominance. this will create more conflicts between robots and humans.
e. points to various research being done to make moral robots.
17. privacy pragmatism
a. data is being ubiquitously collected all around us.
b. very difficult to monitor how data is being collected and how it is being used.
c. if users had to give permission for every use of their data it would be very hard to do
d. the government regulations and laws surrounding data collection is not designed for ubiquitous data collection as it happens now
e. the data collection itself is not a problem but how the data is being used
f. typical user agreements are too long for users to understand and companies are hiding their usage of the data in the verbiage.
18. data collection can lead to both good and bad. need to encourage the good restrict the bad.
a. suggests that government create rules so users know how the data is being used rather than what is being collected.
b. the power of marker creation
c. talks about 4 types of innovation a. efficiency innovation b. sustaining ennovation and c. non consumption innovation
d. suggests that companies and nations should focus non consumption innovation because the other 2 types of innovation don't create jobs but focus on replacing job.
e. gives examples of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan which have successfully capitalized on non consumption innovation to improve rapidly
f. suggests the government's should focus on enabling entrepreneurs by teaching them how to spot non consumption and the cost to capture that market
g. talks about corruption in developing world which is hindering entrepreneurship as managers have to work in negotiating with corrupt government officials. also talks about ways to avoid this and gives examples of the Indian it sector.
h. talks about how to raise capital when there are system level constraints and markets don't trust non consumption innovation. talks about royalty financing but it's not very clear what problem the royalty financing scheme is trying to solve.
256 reviews7 followers
July 9, 2018
I read this for work. After reading hundreds of pages of various research reports on this same topic, I read this book. Which was far more boring and dryly written than any of the reports. I feel like books should be more engaging than research reports, but maybe that's just me.
Profile Image for Alberto.
95 reviews17 followers
May 18, 2021
Inquietante futuro el que nos presenta el Director del Foro Económico Mundial Klaus Schwab
Profile Image for Philippe.
24 reviews
December 16, 2020
Klaus Schwab is an ultra elite Davos agent who looks down on the common folk, Schwab hopes to robotize humanity and track us all like livestock to benefit his friends in the elitist club of Davos.
Profile Image for Antonio Stark.
228 reviews14 followers
January 3, 2022
The World Economic Forum (aka Davos for its location) has been a place of world and industry leaders to come together to discuss the long-term future of the world society and how societies as a whole should adapt and leverage those changes. This books is compact, but the depth of knowledge it carries from years of Davos sessions, and surveys across enterprise officers, is invaluable to any corporate officer working in global strategy. This book ties down countless different concepts currently in the works in the technosphere, and considers their societal impact in the most holistic of ways. There are numerous other books that go into each technology and its potential impact, but none can aim for the level of practicality and societal decision making power this book is working off from.
Profile Image for La mia.
359 reviews34 followers
February 6, 2017
Aspettative deluse. Mi attendevo di comprendere qualcosa che non conoscevo, o almeno di riuscire a inserire in un quadro organico una serie di fenomeni eterogenei che stiamo vivendo, e che proprio per questo non riusciamo a mettere nella giusta prospettiva. Purtroppo in questo libro non ho trovato risposte, o nuove domande. E’ uno zibaldone di ciò che potrebbe accadere, ma potrebbe anche non accadere. Un libro che descrive una serie di potenziali scenari e cerca – senza riuscirci – di dare un peso ad alcuni probabili evoluzioni. Manca una presa di posizione, una riflessione più energica e matura, un tentativo di pensiero critico. La mia conoscenza e la mia percezione del fenomeno (o meglio dei fenomeni, perché mi rimane il dubbio che possa esistere un quadro unitario in cui leggere tutte le questioni sollevate dal libro) restano quelle che avevo prima di iniziare a leggere. Occasione persa.
510 reviews126 followers
January 31, 2016
Contains gems such as: "Agile governance does not imply regulatory uncertainty, nor frenetic, ceaseless activity on the part of policymakers. We should not make the mistake of thinking that we are caught between two equally unpalatable legislative frameworks — outdated but stable on one hand, or up-to-date but volatile on the other. In the age of the fourth industrial revolution, what is needed is not necessarily more or faster policymaking, but rather a regulatory and legislative ecosystem that can produce more resilient frameworks."
Profile Image for Lee.
180 reviews15 followers
February 16, 2018
Hmmm, OK. I've read the same content many times before. This isn't really offering anything new. If you're relatively new to the topic, then it's an OK coverage in a short book (<200 pages)
March 24, 2022
Uh … yikes.

On page one of the Introduction, Schwab says he wants to “shape the new technology revolution, which entails nothing less than a transformation of humankind,” “in a fusion of technologies across the physical, digital and biological worlds” for a “profound and systemic change.”

“Today we are at the beginning of a fourth industrial revolution,” he states. “It began at the turn of this century and builds on the digital revolution. It is characterized by a much more ubiquitous and mobile internet, by smaller and more powerful sensors that have become cheaper, and by artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

“Occurring simultaneously are waves of further breakthroughs in areas ranging from gene sequencing to nanotechnology, from renewables to quantum computing. It is the fusion of these technologies and their interaction across the physical, digital and biological domains that make the fourth industrial revolution fundamentally different from previous revolutions.”

“We have yet to grasp fully the speed and breadth of this new revolution,” he says. “We are witnessing profound shifts across all industries,” “on the societal front, a paradigm shift is underway,” “the changes are historic in terms of their size, speed and scope,” and it all “involves the transformation of entire systems, across (and within) countries, companies, industries and society as a whole.”

“The fourth industrial revolution, however, is not only about smart and connected machines and systems. Its scope is much wider.”

That’s a pretty ominous start.

Because he believes these changes are inevitable, a sort of fated destiny, this becomes the pretext for a covert bid for power; his book makes it clear that he believes that he and the members of the World Economic Forum (WEF) that he established in 1971 are the only ones who can understand all the monumental changes and shepherd the world through them. As he puts it:

“Shaping the fourth industrial revolution to ensure that it is empowering and human-centred, rather than divisive and dehumanizing, is not a task for any single stakeholder or sector or for any one region, industry or culture. The fundamental and global nature of this revolution means it will affect and be influenced by all countries, economies, sectors and people. It is, therefore, critical that we invest attention and energy in multistakeholder cooperation across academic, social, political, national and industry boundaries.”

Read this carefully. “Empowering and human-centred” sound good; that first sentence seems to imply that no one group should be in charge.

But look more closely. As the book goes on, he calls for the creation of an organization that is not under the jurisdiction of any one country, but which will, in fact, govern all “countries, economies, sectors and people,” by directing/coordinating the “multistakeholder cooperation across academic, social, political, national and industry boundaries.”

Like, y’know, the WEF.

In other words, the attempted power grab is hidden in plain sight:

“I have two primary concerns about factors that may limit the potential of the fourth industrial revolution to be effectively and cohesively realized. First, I feel that the required levels of leadership and understanding of the changes underway, across all sectors, are low when contrasted with the need to rethink our economic, social and political systems to respond to the fourth industrial revolution. As a result, both at the national and global levels, the requisite institutional framework to govern the diffusion of innovation and mitigate the disruption is inadequate at best and, at worst, absent altogether. Second, the world lacks a consistent, positive and common narrative that outlines the opportunities and challenges of the fourth industrial revolution, a narrative that is essential if we are to empower a diverse set of individuals and communities and avoid a popular backlash against the fundamental changes.”

Again, read that carefully. He believes it is a REQUIREMENT (“requisite”) to create an institutional framework to govern a GLOBAL system run by high-level leaders, and he wants to create an official worldwide “narrative” that is “essential” to “avoid a popular backlash” that he is already planning to put down.

He’s just doing them a favor: “With governments and government based structures lagging behind in the regulatory space, it may actually be up to the private sector and non-state actors to take the lead.” After all, “governments must also adapt to the fact that power is also shifting from state to non-state actors, and from established institutions to loose networks. New technologies and the social groupings and interactions they foster allow virtually anyone to exercise influence in a way that would have been inconceivable just a few years ago. […] Policymakers are finding it harder to effect change. They are constrained by rival power centres including the transnational, provincial, local and even the individual. Micro-powers are now capable of constraining macro-powers such as national governments.”

In other words, here is his unconscious confession that individuals such as Klaus Schwab and “micro-powers” such as the WEF are now capable of constraining macro-powers such as national governments.

He predicts that “the fusion of the physical, digital and biological worlds will further transcend time/space limitations in such a way as to encourage mobility. One of the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution will therefore be the governance of human mobility to ensure that its benefits are fully realized by aligning sovereign rights and obligations with individual rights and aspirations, reconciling national and human security and finding ways to maintain social harmony in the midst of increasing diversity.”

And who will be doing all this governing, hmm? Perhaps the WEF and their stakeholders? And who elected them?

He repeats it again and again throughout the book. The “complexity and interconnectedness [of the transformations driven by this industrial revolution] across all sectors imply that all stakeholders of global society — governments, business, academia, and civil society — have a responsibility to work together to better understand the emerging trends. Shared understanding is particularly critical if we are to shape a collective future that reflects common objectives and values. We must have a comprehensive and globally shared view of how technology is changing our lives. […] There has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril. My concern, however, is that decision-makers are too often caught in traditional, linear (and non-disruptive) thinking.”

Furthermore, “the career incentives and funding conditions in universities today favour incremental, conservative research over bold and innovative programmes. One antidote to research conservatism in academia is to encourage more commercial forms of research.”

So in response, he is proposing non-traditional, circular, disruptive thinking that will create radical (non-incremental) programs and for-profit research, and he is advocating that we need global coordination for all this, directed by the WEF. (He mentions “Project MainStream, the World Economic Forum’s initiative to accelerate the transition to the circular economy,” “which is regenerative by design and works by decoupling growth and resource needs,” but is a “circular” economy — in which there is no growth, simply circular movement — truly feasible, let alone “sustainable”? What about the Second Law of Thermodynamics?)

“It is only by bringing together and working in collaboration with leaders from business, government, civil society, faith, academia and the young generation that it becomes possible to obtain a holistic perspective on what is going on. In addition, this is critical to develop and implement integrated ideas and solutions that will result in sustainable change. This is the principle embedded in the multistakeholder theory (what the World Economic Forum communities often call the Spirit of Davos), which I first proposed in a book published in 1971. Boundaries between sectors and professions are artificial and are proving to be increasingly counterproductive. More than ever, it is essential to dissolve these barriers by engaging the power of networks to forge partnerships. Companies and organizations that fail to do this and do not walk the talk by building diverse teams will have a difficult time adjusting to the disruptions of the digital age.”

“This will require collaborative and flexible structure that reflect the integration of various ecosystems and which take fully into account all stakeholders, bringing together the public and private sectors, as well as the most knowledgeable minds in the world from all backgrounds. Second, building on a shared understanding, we need to develop positive, common and comprehensive narratives about how we can shape the fourth industrial revolution for current and future generations. Although we may not know the precise content of these narratives, we do know critical features that they must contain. […] Third, on the basis of raised awareness and shared narratives, we must embark on restructuring our economic, social and political systems to take full advantage of the opportunities presented. It is clear that our current decision-making systems and dominant models of wealth creation were designed and incrementally evolved throughout the first three industrial revolutions. These systems, however, are no longer equipped to deliver on the current, and more to the point, the future generational needs in the context of the fourth industrial revolution. This will clearly require systemic innovation and not small-scale adjustments or reforms at the margin.”

“As the evolutionist Martin Nowak, a professor of mathematics and biology at Harvard University, reminds us, cooperation is ‘the only thing that will redeem mankind.’ […] With effective multistakeholder cooperation, I am convinced that the fourth industrial revolution has the potential to address — and possibly solve — the major challenges that the world currently faces.”

“Redeem”? So he is a religious fanatic seeking redemption for the sins of the world. He explicitly talks about “The Way Forward,” which includes “applying four different types of intelligence,” including “Inspired (the soul),” which “focuses on nourishing the creative impulse and lifting humanity to a new collective and moral consciousness based on a shared sense of destiny.” This is a collectivist religion (and since one of the few figures he mentions favorably is Marx, his religion is probably some sort of synthetic Hegelian nonsense).

“The world is fast changing, hyper-connected, ever more complex and becoming more fragmented but we can still shape our future in a way that benefits all. The window of opportunity for doing so is now.

He wants a total revolution, and he wants it NOW. And what powers will the unelected one-world global government have?

Well, just to start with, modest Schwab has a totalitarian vision, saying that “the era we currently live in, the Anthropocene or Human Age, marks the first time in the history of the world that human activities are the primary force in shaping all life-sustaining systems on earth,” and he characterizes the 4th Industrial Revolution as “enhanced cognitive power [that] is augmenting human production,” through “ubiquitous and mobile internet, […] and by artificial intelligence and machine learning.” “The fusion of digital, physical and biological technologies driving the current changes will serve to enhance human labour and cognition.”

But first he needs to gain control of transportation, and so he pushes for self-driving cars all connected to the internet: “According to BMW 8% of cars worldwide, or 84 million, were connected to the internet in some way. That number will grow to 22%, or 290 million cars, by 2020.” “The automotive industry has developed systems monitoring attention and awareness that can stop cars when people are falling asleep while driving.”

This is ostensibly about convenience and safety, but the massive push for self-driving cars (among other automated devices) also leads me to worry that government could shut off your transportation for disagreeing with them. When you can sense the “attention and awareness” of individuals in a private room/car (and he notes that “insurance companies like Aetna are thinking about how sensors in a carpet could help if you’ve had a stroke. They would detect any gait change and have a physical therapist visit”), what happens when the government wants to root out dissidents? Your car stops, and the carpet calls an armed soldier to visit.

Furthermore, driverless cars (and every other digital thing) would be vulnerable to hacking/cyber attacks. Even Schwab acknowledges that “in the summer of 2015, two hackers demonstrated their ability to hack into a moving car, controlling its dashboard functions, steering, brakes etc., all through the vehicle’s entertainment system.”

Hackers are a legitimate worry. “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!” “It is economically feasible to connect literally anything to the internet. […] All things will be smart and connected to the internet. […] Sensors wired in cattle can communicate to each other through a mobile phone network, and can provide real-time data on cattle conditions from anywhere. Experts suggest that, in the future, every (physical) product could be connected to ubiquitous communication infrastructure, and sensors everywhere will allow people to fully perceive their environment.”

And, needless to say, be perceived by literally everything in their environment … and whoever else might be watching. He even acknowledges that “Governments may start to find that their previous ways of collecting data are no longer needed, and may turn to big-data technologies to automate their current programmes,” and notes the “consequences of a potential ‘digital Pearl Habor’ (i.e. digital hackers or terrorists paralysing infrastructure, leading to no food, fuel and power for weeks)”

Nevertheless, despite the danger, he advocates for “smart cities,” “a global network of smart (network-driven) cities, countries and regional clusters” “with advances in sensors, optics and embedded processors.” As an example, he notes that “the city of Santander in northern Spain [already] has 20,000 sensors connecting buildings, infrastructure, transport, networks and utilities.” Of course, there is the “risk of collapse (total black out) if the energy system fails,” but he glosses over that.

He asks us to “consider remote monitoring — a widespread application of the IoT [“Internet Of Things”]. Any package, pallet or container can now be equipped with a sensor, transmitter or radio frequency identification (RFID) tag that allows a company to track where it is as it moves through the supply chain — how it is performing, how it is being used, and so on. […] In the near future, similar monitoring systems will also be applied to the movement and tracking of people.” “The tools of the fourth industrial revolution enable new forms of surveillance and other means of control.” In order to implement this “monitoring of urban mobility infrastructure,” “next-generation LED street lights can act as a platform for a host of sensing technologies that collect data on […] the movement of traffic and people.”

(Remember that back in December of 2016, the WEF put out a futurist Tweet quoting Ida Auken, a member of Denmark’s parliament, enthusiastically saying “Welcome to 2030. I own nothing, have no privacy, and life has never been better.” Meanwhile, he notes that “Ralph Lauren has developed a sports shirt that is designed to provide real-time workout data by measuring sweat output, heart rate, breathing intensity, etc.” But what happens when this is weaponized?)

And that’s not all: “Synthetic biology is the next step. It will provide us with the ability to customize organisms by writing DNA. Setting aside the profound ethical issues this raises, these advances will not only have a profound and immediate impact on medicine but also on agriculture and the production of biofuels.”

“SETTING ASIDE” the profound ethical issues? O_O

Yep. “With the fusion of technologies, a key theme of this book, unpredictable dynamics inherently surface, challenging existing legal and ethical frameworks.” For instance, “3D printing will become more pervasive to include integrated electronic components such as circuit boards and even human cells and organs. Researchers are already working on 4D, a process that would create a new generation of self-altering products […] in health-related products such as implants designed to adapt to the human body.” He promotes “health devices” that will “send data to monitoring centres, or potentially release healing medicines automatically,” “digital tattoos [that] not only look cool but can perform useful tasks, like unlocking a car, entering mobile phone codes with a finger-point or tracking body processes,” and “smart tattoos and other unique chips [which] could help with identification and location. Implanted devices will likely also help to communicate thoughts normally expressed verbally through a ‘built-in’ smart phone, and potentially unexpressed thoughts or moods by reading brainwaves and other signals.”

“Reading brainwaves”? Yep. He wants “Designer beings” “whose genome was directly and deliberately edited,” despite the “risk of interaction between edited plants/animals human/environmental health,” and “misuse of genetic data by governments or companies.”

(Review continues in comments.)
Profile Image for  ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎.
531 reviews25 followers
May 11, 2022
A glimpse at the next 15 years of the world from the perspective of a notorious global elite puppet master Klaus Schwab. Highly suggest reading if you don't want to be steamrolled by innovation, tech, and the global macroeconomy.
Profile Image for Abdul Alhazred.
179 reviews
October 29, 2022

The book reads like someone got really into NLP in the 80s and desperately wants you to repeat "The Fourth Industrial Revolution" in your sleep. While the negative externalities from the near future (widespread joblessness, inequality, political upheaval) are made very concrete, the benefits and the solutions to the problems, appear only as vague handwaving and the kind of meaningless fluff words business management people take courses in to swindle investors with.
Also 20% of the book is just an appendix with a series of random summaries about various promising technologies or products that exist, the future of which are then hypothesized about. Did you know we didn't used to have computers and the internet, and now we do? Can you imagine what happens when everyone has an iPhone and Apple Watch? Access to education! Participation in the global economy! Expanded market size and e-commerce! Hype and buzzwords masquerading as information.
Profile Image for Kämen.
127 reviews5 followers
January 21, 2022
Imagine O'Brien from Orwell's 1984 holding a dry, boring presentation on future tech and how the Party plans to use it to 6uild 6ack 6etter a future "utopian" society in which you will own nothing, eat ze bugs and be happy.

What's really scary is that this time it's not fiction and this real life Bond villain has somehow persuaded the whole world to follow his crazy ideas.

I tell you, Winston, that reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes: only in the mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party holds to be the truth, is truth. It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the Party.

Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves.

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.
Profile Image for Ross Harvey.
3 reviews8 followers
October 10, 2016
Potential for common-good-enhancing technological revolution

I really enjoyed the emphasis on complexity and the need to master ecosystem interaction between advances in all kinds of fields (all enabled through technological advances). The possibility of devolving power (literally and figuratively) is amazing, along with creating a zero-waste and low-carbon system of production and consumption. I also appreciate the cautions of how the 4th industrial revolution risks further alienating the already marginalized. But I'm not as hopeful as the author on humans' collective ability to foster cooperation and shared values. It's an increasingly polarized world, and our global politics are being fought out in a post-truth era. Phenomenons like Trump and Brexit and the rise of populism across the globe could really undermine the possibilities generated by new technologies.
Profile Image for Rishab Katoch.
37 reviews30 followers
December 10, 2020
A decent primer into the world of technological developments that are bringing forth the "fourth industrial revolution" And the discussions surrounding this phenomenon in different realms i.e. societal, ethical, economical, etc. The author manages to turn an exciting subject into a rather dull read. Nonetheless recommended for anyone interested in the nature of the fourth industrial revolution and what we can expect from it. The appendix is particularly useful, listing all the major technologies like AI, 3D printing, driverless cars, etc and their tipping points and probability to be turned into actual use by 2025.
2 reviews
November 11, 2021
Part of the reason Hitler was able to get away with mass murder is because most of the people that blindly followed him failed to read Mein Kampf. Most people walk around with their eyes closed to what is happening right in front of them. Objectively educate yourself and open your eyes.

It’s almost like Klaus Schwab was educated in Mein Kampf as a child and perfected it as an adult. This won’t end well for humanity.
Profile Image for Marek.
30 reviews1 follower
October 18, 2022
The book is basically a collection of trends, which already were not something revealing at the time of publication. In my opinion, that will get old as bad as a newspaper.

The book is written in very general terms – we only have more specifics at the very end of the book, in the appendix.

And, personally, it annoys me that the author reproduces the myth of the gender gap. From such a person it would be expected that he knows how to read reports and interpret numbers.
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