Today four ways leaders can embrace this changing reality

Today we stand at the precipice of the Fourth Industrial
Revolution (4IR), uniquely positioned to shape its outcome and our global
future. With the advent of advanced robotics, artificial intelligence, and
quantum computing, this revolution has the potential to bring about
unprecedented good for humanity. It can raise global income levels, bring
millions out of poverty, improve quality of life, and propel inconceivable
strides in medicine, science, and business. At the same time, there are risks.
If left undirected, it could lead to a surge in inequality, joblessness, and
lower productivity because of automated technology.

Here are four ways leaders can embrace this changing reality
and play a vital role in the 4IR.

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Understand this changing environment

It is impossible to fully understand the impact the Fourth
Industrial Revolution will impart on our global economy, yet the current speed
of change leaves little time to adapt. Corporations, start-ups, and policy-makers
are already creating the rules, standards, and infrastructure that will govern
and shape these new technologies. Amid unsettling change, it is important to
note that neither the technology itself nor the disruption it brings is an
exogenous force for which we have no control. As leaders in industry we hold a duty
to our stakeholders, to guide a responsible evolution, directing it toward a
future that fully reflects our shared values.

Invest in your people

As automation expands, low-skilled and low-income
communities, albeit rural towns or developing countries, face greater exposure to
the negative effects of this new revolution. Furthermore, once highly-skilled
individuals will face a new troublesome reality, where current abilities and
experience become obsolete. Continuous learning and development and acquiring
new skills such as complex problem-solving, high-level technical skills, and emotional
intelligence have become more importance for workers to adapt to this new and
emerging economy.

The World Economic Forum
reported that one-third of the skills required to perform modern jobs will be
“wholly new” by 2020. Their report concludes, “Simply increasing the number of STEM
graduates within the framework of currently existing education systems is not a
silver bullet for mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” The need for continuous
training and advanced learning has significant implications for education and
training systems around the world. Companies must evolve their mindset that talent
is not a fixed resource, but can be developed overtime by everyone. Investing
in human capital is required to ensure readiness for fast-changing, agile, economy.

Talent is not a fixed resource. EK1 

Design inclusive technological systems

At the heart of this revolution is the idea that technological
systems should serve humanity in sustainable and inclusive ways. These emerging
technologies, particularly AI, biotechnology, and neurotechnologies, often
chart a path toward an unrestricted level of influence into how people think
and behave. For this emerging revolution to be human-centric, such influence
must be guided by transparency, accountability, and empathy. If we fail to design
inclusion into our technology systems, the environmental and health-related impacts EK2 will
be far reaching. Richard Samans, of the World
Economic Forum, suggests four key principles for designing social inclusion
into advanced technological systems:

Focus on the impact on systems, rather than
simply the capability of technologies

Find ways to empower citizens and stakeholders,
rather than controlling them

Be conscious of design principles at the heart
of evolving systems, and shift these to being more human-centered

Make positive values a feature of technological
systems, rather than viewing ethical issues as matters of compliance, cost or
mere “unintended consequences”


The emergence of the stem engine, in
the late 18th century, introduced more than just a new way to
transport goods between villages. It introduced what would be known as the First
Industrial Revolution. Through steam, steal, factories, and microprocessors,
the three previous industrial revolutions have done more to make the world a
more prosperous and connected place than any other event in history. The
emerging technologies of today blur the lines between the physical, digital,
and biological. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will challenge our ideas, our
norms, and redefine our standards. By understanding this changing reality,
investing in your people, and creating a more inclusive system, we will help
shape the future to reflect our values, for generations to come.