Would it surprise you to learn that we are already immersed in the 4th Industrial Revolution?

I should have been studying at the end of last year but instead I started collating and researching my family tree.  I read up on previous family members’ work and had fun doing internet search appreciating the issues of various ages and events of my ancestors.

What I learnt about my 1820 settler family who arrived in the now Eastern Cape,  is that they were based in England, and at that time, they were either peasants or craft people.  My one ancestor signed with a X on the documentation available on the internet.  The first (steam, water and mechanical production inventions) and second (division of labour, electricity and mass production) industrial revolution at that time displaced their skills and livelihood.  So they agreed to be part of an adventure for a new life in the colonies, where they were given a piece of land to farm, which sounded very attractive.  They had to pay to go, and if they could not, they were indentured to the more resourceful families on the ships that came out.  These ships were previously utilised in the Napoleonic wars and in a time of relative Franco-British peace, they needed new purpose:  taking displaced people to the ‘colonies’ made the ship owners happy for a while.    These 1820 settlers also provided a buffer to the Cape Colony with regards indigenous people who were forced to ‘share’ their land with these new people.

So why do I tell you this story of my ancestors?  Maybe our descendants will be telling similar stories in nearly 200 years’ time.   We are in the middle of the 4th Industrial revolution, where technology is having an impact in all aspects of our lives.  Some of us can remember the 3rd industrial revolution (electronics, IT, automated production) with the first computers and the use of the tele-fax machine.  Then the advent of the cell phone, e-mails and the internet.  Now our whole life is in that small smart phone in our hands.

The 4th industrial revolution is a number of continuous technologies that are implemented such as Nano technology, precision medicine, data-mining and analytics, and further automation of routine work previously done by people.  Computers are thinking for us.  This sounds like the futuristic movies of the past.

The big question is what does this mean for us, both as an individual and as an organisation?  

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