Industrial Revolution is a perpetual process. Since its beginning in the 18th century, the industrial revolution has been a widely discussed topic all around the globe. Starting from the mechanization and the invention of the steam and water power of the First Industrial Revolution, the process has continued for almost two centuries. As a result of the Second Industrial Revolution, human beings were able to discover electricity power and mass production. The Third Industrial Revolution demonstrated a greater leap of the human kind’s potential with the introduction of automation, electronic and IT systems. Therefore, the initial question would be, what does the Fourth Industrial Revolution have to offer us?
What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) illustrates the adoption of cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet of Systems (IOS). In consequence, a series of social, political, cultural and economic upheavals will be unfolded over the 21st century. For example, technologies such as blockchain and smart materials will redefine and reduce the boundary between the digital and physical worlds. When smart technologies are implemented in the factories and workplaces, connected machines will interact, visualize the entire production chain and make decisions autonomously. Moreover, the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution consist of artificial intelligence, genome editing, augmented reality, robotics, and 3D printing.
In some ways, the Fourth Industrial Revolution seems like an extension of the computerization of the Third Industrial Revolution. However, it will have a great impact on transforming industries, institutions and the lives of individuals on a global scale. Like every industrial revolution that took place previously, this industrial revolution will also elicit the inability to distribute fairly the resulting benefits. According to Professor Klaus Schwab, founder, and chairman of the World Economic Forum, the Fourth Industrial Revolution would bring about challenges that are profound and have the potential of greater peril. Therefore, the decision-makers will be either caught in traditional and non-disruptive thinking or be too absorbed by immediate concerns to think strategically about the forces of disruption and innovation shaping our future. Even though the former is relatively harmless, the latter will involve countries in a battle to achieve global technological supremacy.
From Industry 4.0 to Global Technological Supremacy
The technologies of the fourth industrial revolution are currently paving the way to a battle for global technological supremacy. It is evident that the United States and China, two countries having the world’s largest economies, are currently involved in this battle. The recent invention of the 5G technology has provided a thriving battleground for these two superpowers in the world. The 5G technology is essential for the Internet of Things, self-driving vehicles and other next-generation technology. Huawei is a prominent Chinese company that provides 5G services at a lower price. However, the US has recently imposed restrictions on China’s investment in its hi-tech sectors while banning Huawei products within the country. Similarly, the US has refused visas to Chinese scholars studying in US hi-tech areas. Also, have demanded that the Chinese government alter its industrial policies such as “Made in China 2025”.
Therefore it is evident that the US is threatened by the possibility that China might gain technological supremacy over them, mainly by being the initial producer of the 5G technology to many European countries. On the other hand, by blocking down Huawei, the US and its allies are losing access to one of the world’s finest technologies. This slows down eventually their aim of achieving global technological supremacy. In addition, despite the fast technological growth, China is still reliant on US technologies. As a result, no party is likely to win this tech war which appears at the periphery of an intense trade war between the two countries to achieve global leadership and technological supremacy. Instead, it will have a negative impact on the global supply chain while decreasing the speed of global technological progress in the long term.