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Eureka: What exactly is the fourth industrial revolution?
by Jay Gutman
2017-10-01 11:25:23
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In 1997, a little known Belgian player, Filip Dewulf made it to the French Open semis and made over 100,000 dollars, the biggest check he ever got. The press asked him what he would spend the money on. I remember he said he would get a large collection of music CDs.

Now, without needing such paychecks, you have the largest music, film, series, entertainment, sports and you name it in a database on websites like Youtube or Netflix. And a lot of times it's completely free.

indus01_400Now imagine you can do your grocery shopping, clothes shopping, electronics shopping, or even buy a house online. All with custom-made products.

You go grocery shopping online, choose the kind of eggs you prefer, white, yellow, large, round, oval, Kosher you name it. You order your custom brand of cereal. With raisons, cinnamon, grain, wheat, lots of sugar, no sugar, you name it. And can do so with pretty much any grocery product. All of it delivered home by drones carrying your box and leaving it at your window or doorstep. You don't need to give your address, just your IP location.

You need a tailor custom-made suit. No need to get your measurements. Your 3D camera takes a snapshot of you and knows exactly how to measure your suit, shirt, jacket or pants. It fits perfectly and gets delivered home. Same goes for your clothes. You can design your brand of t-shirts, or add any decoration you want, and have it delivered home. And thanks to the 3D camera taking your measurements it fits perfectly.

Same goes for home appliances. Custom vaccuum cleaners, a custom fridge, with larger vegetable compartments if you have a larger family. You tell them, they'll make you one. Your smart television will have a custom size, one that can fit perfectly on your favorite wall. Your computer will be customized, mine will need four types of characters on the keyboard, Arabic, Latin, Korean and Hebrew. You get the idea. No more need to buy those stickers.

You can check with real-estate agencies and have your house or appartment customized. We'll even have words for that, as in compact one-room appartment (small but everything fits in from a kitchen to a sofa to a bed) or other words for different types of appartments. You can have bathrooms in each bedroom, or order appartments with built-in make-up corners. Manicures and make-up also go in the mix of fast, custom-made mix.

Cars will have options and applications, just like your smartphone does. And just as many. You'll be able to hop on a plane almost as fast as you can hop on a bus. And your fingerprints will determine if you're allowed on that flight.

Teachers will no longer need to check attendance. Students will put their fingerprints at the entrance of the school, and if one of them is missing, the parents get a text message notifying the student is not on time. You can scan the home work, and it gets automatically graded.

All this means a lot of forward-thinking, coding and testing products. If you don't test them carefully enough they could flop. And there are many more products. In health, in technology, in agriculture, in industry, you name it. This kind of sums up the fourth industrial revolution.

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Emanuel Paparella2017-10-01 14:22:52
As usual, there is another side to this phenomenon of the inevitable “progress” represented by the fourth industrial revolution, which, being the fourth revolution, must necessarily and deterministically be better than the first, the second or the third, according to the philosophy of the cohorts of positivists and reductionists, in and out of academia. But without a consideration of that other side the analysis remains defective.

That other side is perhaps best exemplified by the analysis of the 19th century English poet Matthew Arnold who was for a while inspector general of the schools of the realm and who visited America at some point in his career, and then wrote in his reflections that while the social, scientific, technological problem seemed to have been all but solved in America, the human problem still left a lot to be desired. He saw regress, not progress.

What could Arnold possibly have meant by that simple but cogent observation? Simply this, that the positivistic approach tends to deplorably ignore the humanities and the liberal arts and the classics, very much appreciated by the founding fathers of the U.S. (and in fact finds it quite normal to establish schools which do not teach those subjects; the so called technical schools), and in the process ends up offering an incomplete and defective education, one that is unconcerned with what Socrates called the care of the soul, and confuses the care of the body (conceived as a machine of sorts), and the examination of one’s funds in the bank with the examination of one’s purposes and ethical values in life, and the very meaning and destiny of human life. That problem, alas, remains unattended in our positivistic progressive times and that's too bad!

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