There is no doubt about whether technology has been rapidly advancing over the past fifty years. It’s almost impossible for us to manage life without technology such as the internet, smartphones and tablets now but these gadgets have come into existence and shot to popularity in the past thirty years. That’s within the lifetime of a huge majority of the population! More recently, we are seeing huge developments in AI technology, The Internet of Things and cryptocurrencies. For some, the advanced ability for computers to be able to respond to everyday situations just as humans would is concerning. However, whether you embrace it or not a huge number of technological advancements are set to be made in the near future; is the world ready?
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
Many people have hailed the rapid acceleration in technology as the start of the fourth industrial revolution. This refers to the advancement in technology which is changing the way factories as we know them operate. In particular, the Internet of Things, which is also referred to as the IoT, is making it possible for machinery to be connected via the internet and ‘communicate’ with other areas of the factory. This could make it possible for entirely employee free production lines to exist. The machines are able to communicate with each other, meaning that they can potentially stop and start production themselves, report and fix issues and even make production decisions on their own.
In Germany, progress towards the fourth industrial revolution has already begun. The German government is investing 500 million euro into developing the technology. The country is also home to one of the largest research facilities for smart factory technology in the world. The machines within this facility are designed to move themselves around, communicate with each other and make changes to the production line. China, Japan, South Korea and the USA are also progressing towards the development of smart factories.
This technology will completely revolutionise the way businesses operate allowing them to be more efficient, more environmentally friendly and more widely connected than ever before. However, such monumental changes to the way factories, warehouses and businesses across a wide range of sectors will also pose a threat to current employees’ jobs. There are also concerns that some small organisations will not be able to keep up with the rapid rate of advancement, leaving many businesses vulnerable and, in turn, leaving a large question mark over the world’s economies. In order to sustain a fourth industrial revolution, the world will have to be prepared to regulate these technologies appropriately and find suitable employment alternatives for the millions of industry workers around the world.
Cryptocurrencies are also playing a huge role in the future of the economy. These decentralised currencies make it possible for peer-to-peer financial transactions to take place online, without the involvement of a third party such as a bank or government. Bitcoin, one of the most valuable and most popular cryptocurrencies, is being widely used on a number of mainstream platforms already. The online PlayStation network PSN is just one of the online gaming platforms accepting the digital currency as a payment method. With only a limited number of total Bitcoins available, it is questionable whether or not creating Bitcoin through mining will remain profitable and worthwhile. The cryptocurrency is a revolutionary concept but it is also one which is highly unstable, with its value fluctuating every few months, making it difficult to predict its future.
The Impact On Society
Although the economy is one of the most widely discussed areas, it is individual people who will feel the first-hand impacts of future technological developments. At the moment, societies around the world place a huge amount of value on employment, ambition and being part of a workforce. This means that the potential for many people to be out of work could have a negative impact on society as a whole. Huge leaps forward in technology pose a number of unknown challenges, with many questioning whether we will see a rise in cyber security threats around the world. As society moves towards becoming more automated, measures must be taken to regulate and control the technology that is introduced to prevent problems arising.
However, there are also many positive outcomes of technological advancements. Healthcare standards around the world could improve dramatically, reducing the impact of diseases which are currently worldwide epidemics. In particular, scientists and doctors may be better able to detect and reduce the impact of Alzheimer’s disease by using technology to fight the decline of the brain’s capability.
Global energy consumption is a major concern which could be addressed through the IoT and wireless technology. Being able to control home appliances and heating systems remotely will reduce the excessive waste of energy, while electric vehicles are also set to replace traditional cars in the future. India has already pledged to make every car sold electric by 2030, to combat the cost of fuel and the environmental damage it causes and it is likely that countries around the world will follow this trend. With the right infrastructure in place, such as charging points and government support for the industry, the world is certainly ready to embrace improvements in the technology behind energy consumption.
It isn’t possible to know exactly what the future holds but it is highly likely that technology will continue to progress at the rapid rate we have seen already in the 21st century. We are likely to see an increasing number of automated robots in the business and industrial sector, which will completely change the way our industries operate. The impacts that these advancements will have depend on the ability of governments and world leaders to adapt to new technologies.