An Update on the Fourth Industrial Revolution

We are in the middle of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as Industry 4.0.
This is a period marked by upheaval, dramatic change, opportunities, and significant risks.
Fortunes will change, businesses will fail, and new businesses will emerge from the ashes.

We will gain a greater understanding of what we should do, and we will likely do worse in terms of work-life balance and family value, as we have in any previous revolution.
There’s also a possibility of being exploited and losing our humanity.
This last point could turn out to be advantageous.

Let’s talk about where we are in this new Industrial Revolution and where we’ll probably be in 10 to 40 years when it finishes.
We’ll wrap things up with my product of the week, Poly’s new conferencing camera/speaker setup.

The First Three Industrial Revolutions (Industrial Revolutions I, II, and III

The first Industrial Revolution began in 1760 and is considered to have lasted for 60 years.
It resulted in the rise of the middle class, the creation of large-scale skilled jobs, advances in manufacturing tools (particularly in textiles), agriculture, and mining.

In 1871, the second Industrial Revolution began and lasted for nearly 43 years.
Quick transportation (by land and sea), wired and wireless communication, and electricity were all invented during this time period. Also, assembly lines accelerated how rapidly and cheaply we could create goods for both civilian and military use, laying the groundwork for two world wars’ technological foundations.

The last Industrial Revolution, which began in the 1950s and lasted the rest of the century, saw the birth of computers, automation, manufacturing practical robots, and the birth and maturation of the digital era.

Each revolution had far-reaching consequences for labor, power, wages, health, and work-life balance. In most of the world, the first two revolutions arguably increased wealth distribution, abolished most royalty, greatly decreased slavery, and put power in the hands of the people.

One might argue that the previous Industrial Revolution undid all of the development.
Wealth shifted from the majority to the few, citizens relinquished control to corporations and governments, and most people’s work-life balance deteriorated dramatically.
Computing capacity, on the other hand, resulted in better healthcare, longer life expectancies, improved job protection, increased access to knowledge, and the end of world wars.
The issue with each revolution is that it was not well-managed.
Both the advantages and the drawbacks arose naturally, and with each advancement, the potential to do good or damage was amplified dramatically.
If you think of technology as a lever, you could move the world with a long enough lever, to borrow from Archimedes.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is shaping up to be one large lever.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a period of rapid technological advancement.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has been underway for some time, arguably beginning with the viable birth of artificial intelligence shortly after the turn of the century. It promises advances in combining humans and machines, including mechanical organ and limb replacements, significant advances in machine intelligence (a concept I believe is more precise than AI), flying vehicles, the advent of autonomous machines, vast civilian instrumentation, and a world war.
However, this global war is a battle against pollution and global warming, which is causing more and more dangerous weather disasters, rising sea levels, and division of world views.

It’s also resulted in another big issue: an urgent global need for expanded auto insurance cover (I swear, my phone wouldn’t ring if I didn’t get calls for this).
Aside from the auto insurance joke, the Industrial Revolution will force us to rethink who we trust with knowledge, as well as where humans end and machines begin, and vice versa.
It would also necessitate a much closer analysis of work-life balance, as we may become hardwired to technological tools, eventually pushing us to work 24/7 if we aren’t careful.

Are you thinking about your sleep?
Latest breakthroughs mean that we will be able to function while sleeping.
Granted, we’ll have to focus on dream output because I seem to be searching for cars in parking lots, classes I’m late for, or agonizing about exams I haven’t prepared for in most of mine. These innovations will have a huge effect on our lives as they progress.
(I’m considering making my future robot answer those annoying auto insurance calls!)

Since we make things that can operate for an intent far more quickly than we can, the degree of chaos and danger associated with this revolution is unprecedented.

During this new transition, nearly half of all workers are at risk of being automated, and we are also creating robotic companions (fortunately, they still need a ton of work).
Even the idea of becoming a father has the potential to become obsolete (I suggest a conscious effort by men to treat women better before they collectively decide we are no longer needed).
We are working to cool the earth, clean up ocean-borne plastics, and even relocate humans to Mars if we destroy it.
I do assume that repairing the world we are on will be preferable, but what do I know?

Final Thoughts: How to Withstand Major Change

I’ve just mentioned a couple of the updates.
I haven’t mentioned flying vehicles, the transition from petrochemicals to electricity, quantum computing, cyber threats, or space aliens, so what do you do to prepare for what is to come?

First, I’d avoid coastal areas and heavily populated areas.
As a result of global warming, water levels are rising and weather conditions are becoming more frequent where land meets water.
Also, avoid places where severe weather events are already happening, and ensure that your home is designed to withstand not only today’s weather but also the weather that will most likely occur in a decade or so.

Consider a forward-thinking field that encourages remote work and requires ongoing preparation.
In the midst of this chaos, you don’t want to become redundant.
Choose businesses that are naturally flexible, have diversity at the top and bottom, and offer corporate social responsibility more than lip service.

Consider your goals when making decisions about your family, where you live, what kind of job you want to do, and the kind of organization you work for or the business you start.
Instead of fighting transition, learn to welcome it.
You can’t stop it, so you might as well find a way to appreciate the transition.

In other words, you want to find a relatively secure island of pleasure that you can maintain while acknowledging that stability would be difficult.
Your aim is to keep the amount of change you have to deal with to a minimum so you can deal with the inevitable disturbances.

The Poly Studio P15 Video Bar is a video bar built by Poly Studio.

For nearly a year, we’ve been relying on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Webex, and I’ve been on the lookout for a better video camera.
Logitech’s support for the Brio, which has been my go-to camera for years, is appalling.
Many of the Brio’s original features, such as advanced green screen functionality, have since stopped operating.

So when Poly contacted me about reviewing their new Poly Studio P15, a $599 high-end desktop video conferencing unit, I was ecstatic.
Although this camera/microphone/speaker device is costly, my initial impression is that it is the best desktop solution I’ve tested so far.

This product’s tagline is “look great, be amazing,” and it lives up to that promise.
The whole point of a solution like this is to look nice on video, and you can change the settings to add a little color to yourself, and it not only auto frames you, but it also uses AI to remove background noise.
You can narrow your field of view to cover the mess beside your desk, and it has good built-in speakers.

On my 49-inch Dell computer, this video bar suits perfectly, but it’s too large and heavy for a laptop.
However, it has a built-in tripod screw mount, and I prefer using a tripod with a laptop.

You’d expect to get a good camera for this price, and you do.
It has backlight correction and a good field of view, all of which are useful for self-centering.
The app is simple, but it does the job; and, frankly, too many controls will cause the picture to be messed up, so I’m fine with it.

It lacks certain features that I expect to see in high-end cameras, such as the ability to render you digitally, apply virtual makeup, or actively make you look younger and better, but no one currently does so.

The Poly Studio P15 is the best personal video conferencing camera I’ve ever seen, and it’s worth checking out if your appearance is important to you.
It’s also this week’s commodity of the week.

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