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There are many attempts to describe our present set of circumstances and many different names have been used. “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” is one of those names. “The Second Machine Age” is the title of a very useful book. There are more titles and names out there. 

The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.

What does “the Fourth Industrial Revolution” actually mean? For me, it’s mostly about the internet of things (IoT). If you think back to the dim and distant past of the Third Industrial Revolution – which was centred around information technology and digitization – applications were about people or IT processes communicating. But now it’s machines and devices that are communicating, continuously and in ever greater numbers. The promise of real-time enterprise – organizations that can respond to need and demand instantaneously – is finally becoming a reality.

The World Economic Forum has a number of relevant articles:

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means and how to respond | World Economic Forum

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is about empowering people, not the rise of the machines | World Economic Forum

The Internet of Things will power the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Here’s how | World Economic Forum

Technology Pioneers 2017 – World Economic Forum

Kudos to Gary for link.