The Emerging Economies Under the Dome of the Fourth Industrial Revolution
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is a topic I have been teaching, researching, and practicing since its inception in 2015/16 when it got launched by the World Economic Forum (WEF). Back then, I was involved with the WEF in a few projects and reports, and the 4IR was one of those initiatives I could see from close up.
Additionally, a close friend and co-author of mine, Nicholas Davis, has been instrumental in the architecture of the concept. My friendship with Nicholas has largely shaped my understanding of the concept, too.
This also brought me to think of the 4IR with less of a romantic view and more with a view of the possibilities of the construct and how it can inspire us to look ahead. In my classes at Hult, my students have been exposed to the 4IR in several instances and across courses. I see it as a transversal concept that applies to many facets of life for a business school and its curriculum.
We see emerging economies as the right level of experimentation of how technologies can fundamentally transform society.
The beginnings of the book
When the book, The Emerging Economies Under The Dome Of The Fourth Industrial Revolution, was planned, together with my co-author Dr. Amit Kapoor, the idea was to use the concept and apply it to the challenges that emerging economies are facing. We see emerging economies as the right level of experimentation of how technologies can fundamentally transform society. We also think that the lack of established infrastructure makes it easier to leapfrog the opportunities that technology presents without fearing that it may lack the right level of integration.
Very often, it is easier to move to a renewable energy model when your energy portfolio is still nascent rather than established. And so goes for most of the infrastructure that tends to be a few decades old. But many regions in the emerging world are dealing with a lack of infrastructure or dire needs to emancipate what they currently have. This makes the conversation on the 4IR much more of a novel proposition rather than an adaptation problem.
The 4IR is less about technology and more about the purpose and social justice.
Convergence, convergence, and more convergence
The 4IR is all about convergence. It is a convergence of technologies among technologies, across technologies, and within technologies. It is the convergence of the interoperability of the technologies as much as the fact that the value is not represented by any individual technology but more by its integration into a larger architecture. Intelligent systems can operate autonomously and integrate older and newer techs into a new form of neuralgic system, automated and programmed to work performatively for the highest level of efficiency.
It is not about economic efficiency though but more about the efficiency of networks. This concept is represented in the book when we talk about the incredible opportunities that emerging economies have when pursuing developmental strategies. The integration occurs in a digital sense, a biological sense, and a physical sense. The three intertwined domains constitute the idiosyncratic opportunity of the 4IR and why it is such a different model from what we have seen in previous revolutions.
Evolution is where society could envision the use of the most frontier technologies to bring social equity
Augmentation of society
The 4IR is less about technology (that is a given) and more about the purpose and social justice. It represents the best collective effort in imagining a society where humans are augmented by technologies and have expanded their capabilities. The idea of augmentation is also remedial to the solution of many problems we are currently facing and that could be fast-forwarded and expedited by the systematic use of tech for good.
This sense of expanding our constraints applies to fields such as medicine, society, education, and climate. This constant sense of evolution is where society could envision the use of the most frontier technologies to bring social equity and just a much more balanced world.
This book is a short element (60 pages) that constitutes a series curated by Cambridge University Press called Essentials.
It is a way to bring a core lesson to the classroom and to a range of stakeholders who may benefit from reading about the use of the 4IR as critical to the growth of emerging economies. It is a contribution to one of the most aspirational concepts of last year and a testament to one of the most unprecedented transformations of our time, the transformation ignited by a new narrative on how technology matters if we design it to matter.
Mark’s book The Emerging Economies Under The Dome Of The Fourth Industrial Revolution is out now and available for purchase through Cambridge University Press.
Curious to know more? You could be sitting in class with Professor Mark Esposito come September—download the Hult brochure here.