Industrial Revolution - Much Ado About Nothing?
Volume 10 Issue 3 News & Resources | July 2017
Industrial Revolution - Much Ado About Nothing?
Mankind has made tremendous progress in the material sense of things. Technological breakthroughs and new discoveries have been made in frequency and proportion unimaginable compared to cumulative novelties from the last few centuries. With the advancement of science and technology, mankind was able to send human to the moon and most probably establish a viable human colony on Mars in the coming few decades. Disruptive technology has managed to reinvent and reformulate the way human live, i.e. affecting cultures and social dynamics. The advent of new technologies such as the computing prowess in machines and the connectivity via the internet medium has changed the normal mode of societal behaviors. Mankind is now more connected much more than ever. Human relationships at the micro and macro levels are now becoming more interlinked and complex.
Technology has certainly disrupted how humans lead their lives. We may seem to be more connected, but in actual fact, we have become more reclusive. The negative effects of technology have now brought about a worsening social respect for individual rights and spread of lies and fabricated news. Technology has managed to make our physical world more convenient and manageable, but has not done much to develop the human psyche to be more positive and considerate. The 4th industrial revolution is now touted as the game changer for future economy. In fact, the term 4th Industrial Revolution got the popular boost it needs at the World Economic Forum (WEF) held not so long ago. Countries around the world are now playing catch-up game. Everyone is trying hard to be the party who would accommodate and facilitate the growth of the 4th Industrial Revolution. It is about the wave of digital automation. More specifically, the term Industry 4.0 was coined to represent the smart and cyber-based manufacturing utilizing technology such as the Internet of Things (IOT), artificial intelligence, robotics, smart sensors and meta-heuristic intelligent algorithm for decision making. The 4th Industrial Revolution is here to stay especially for those countries already in the developed and developing leagues.
The popular term nowadays is the so-called “convergence of technologies”. Many problems and needs in daily human dealings are expected to be solved by direct utilization of state-of-the-art technologies which will include handling modules such as the hardware, software and connectivity issues. In a way, countries such as Malaysia must strive immediately to embrace the new industry direction. There is a need for the institution of higher learning to re-tune and adapt the current engineering and technology curriculum to cope with this upcoming trend. Though the currently available engineering and technology programmes offered in the nation’s IHLs have done relatively well in providing the graduate pool to meet the industrial needs, the acceptance of the need for curriculum updates and adjustment must be embraced. There are however many programmes on offer which are already fit well with the requisites of industry 4.0. The challenge is to ensure the programmes are robust enough to keep-up with the ever-changing landscape of technological advancement. As usual, before any remedial or proactive measures are taken, a certain level of understanding and appreciation of the effect of this new trend must be there. Any actions taken must ensure the nation is able to move well with whatever changes in the technological sphere.
One important realization is the fact that developing nations will have to do more in order to be relevant and adaptable to the new economic expectations. The readiness in terms of policies and infrastructures must enable and assist the fine-tuning processes required. From the educational and training aspects, the current working cohorts of engineers and technologists must be given easy and liberal access to training and skill upgrades. The new economic model which is evolving hand-in-hand with technological breakthroughs should be supported by a new breed of skilled workers. There so-called skilled workers include engineers, technologists, scientists and even the odd laborers. All of us must be ready to change for the better. The knowledge acquired from the Industry 4.0 initiatives will not just be limited to the manufacturing sector. It will, ultimately, creeps into the other business and social exchanges. The wave of digital automation and increase level of machine intelligence will help us to manage our daily resources around us better i.e. in a more efficient way. It is a significant change on how the world would be like in the coming decades. As they say, it not that we do not know how to manage time, but we do not know how to manage the use of time. The 4th industrial revolution has started. We must now ensure we are not left out. As the world progresses, so shall we. Now, I wonder what would be the 5th industrial revolution.
“Every problem or difficulty you face contains the seed of an equal or greater advantage or benefit. " ~Napoleon Hill
Written by :
Prof. Ir. Dr. Mohd Rizal Arshad
School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering