Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Reading :: The Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Fourth Industrial Revolution
By Klaus Schwab

A couple of colleagues recommended this book to me in December, so I picked it up and read—really, skimmed—it a few nights ago. It's a fast read that covers ground with which you'll be familiar if you've read my recent book All Edge: Inside the New Workplace Networks.

Essentially, the author—who is the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum—argues that "technology and digitization will revolutionize everything, making the overused and often ill-used adage 'this time is different' apt. Simply put, major technological innovations are on the brink of fueling momentous change throughout the world—inevitably so" (p.9). Specifically, he identifies technological megatrends that "leverage the pervasive power of digitization and information technology: physical, digital, and biological (p.14). Each of these is expected to hit a number of tipping points by 2025, such as wearable clothes, unlimited free storage, and a trillion sensors connected to the Internet (pp.25-26).

The author explores anticipated impacts of these megatrends for the economy, business, the international order, society, and the individual (Ch.3).

However, the path that this book takes seems well-worn. If you've read much on technology trends in the past two decades, there aren't many surprises here. And in covering such a large sweep, the book doesn't manage to drill down deeply in any of its many topics.

If you're looking for a broad overview of near-term trends and potential changes, you might find this book to be useful—in February 2017. By February 2018, I doubt it will seem fresh.

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