The 46th World Economic Forum that was held in Davos (Switzerland) last week was placed under the theme of the “4th industrial revolution,” that of all-digital. But what worried the powerful? Why they are alarmed by these new technologies
From 20 to 23 January 2016, the small Swiss ski resort of Davos now world famous, hosted once Moreover, the World Economic Forum (WEF for the acronym). The representatives of 10% of the population own 90% of the wealth and power of the planet, are there to reflect on the state of the world and the economic outlook. For this edition, the some 2,500 participants have been working on the “4th industrial revolution”.
What is the “4th industrial revolution”?
Klaus Schwab, German engineer and economist and especially, president and founder of the WEF, asked the definition and contours of what he calls the fourth industrial revolution in a presentation published January 14, 2016 on the WEF website. It shows the outline of his remarks developed in the eponymous book ( The fourth industrial revolution ). For him, it is characterized by “merging technologies that blur the lines between the physical worlds, digital and biological.” And, he says, if the 4th revolution is based on the third, which was that of automation, information technology and electronics, it stands out by its exponential speed, scale ( it affects almost every activity) and its impact on production systems, management and governance. It takes the form of multiple new technologies or innovations: objects connected to 3D printing, artificial intelligence at Big Data through nanotechnology or biological computer
About. the unknown and beyond?
Faced with the rise of all these new technologies, we can quickly be caught dizzy. And Euronews quoted for instance, Indian entrepreneur: “I’m scared, I wonder if this is not going too fast? “For all these technical advances open potential capable of redefining the human being and his relationship to the world in a profound way: what about the control of intelligent robots, bullets transplanted directly into the body, nanomaterials, data. This cyber world that is emerging is a carrier of several major imbalances in today’s societies models.
Mass unemployment threatens the middle class
Although economists do not all speak with one voice, many of them are pessimistic about the evolution of employment in the automation and digitization of production and markets. Of massive job destruction (several million to 40% by 2030 according to estimates) would affect not only the classical production stations of robotics but also more skilled trades officials, drivers, medical etc. Especially as the digitization of the labor market makes it more vulnerable low-skilled workers subject to increased competition and a dislocation of collective labor. Therefore, it’s a whole section of the middle class is threatened with impoverishment. A key major social conflicts may emerge.
Pending political decisions?
If the mighty tremble with new technologies, it is above all to make it impossible to predict with certainty the world of tomorrow and therefore impossible to ensure still have control to maintain power and privilege. Although so far, the rich getting richer as the poor get poorer (see report of Oxfam on this subject.
Kemal Dervis, former director of the United Nations Development Programme Development believes that the policy must play its role as regulator and not let the markets handle only these changes. But the socio-political solutions were discussed rather timidly in Davos whether to discuss the establishment of permanent income base, investments in public goods or multilateral cooperation. And to date, politicians seem him tremble even more before this actually fourth revolution. So do we will be able to invent a new social contract without going through the box of authoritarianism and isolationism?
By Sophie Hoguin