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Inclusive growth in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

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28 . Juni  2017

Jean Marc Frangos

Posts nach Autoren: Jean Marc Frangos, Managing Director External Innovation, BT

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Jean-Marc Frangos explores how society can benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, after attending WEF’s Annual Meeting of New Champions.

Inclusive growth is the theme of the World Economic Forum’s ‘Annual Meeting of New Champions’ 2017 in Dalian, China, and it is a very topical subject. It is mainly about ensuring the fourth industrial revolution does not develop with a sole focus on technology progress and economic benefit, without considering the impact on workers and society at large.

Already, we have seen evidence of citizens worldwide surprising the world with democratic choices which promise greater simplicity and protection against a world which is rapidly becoming too complex and too fast. The economic benefit of recent developments has been unevenly distributed, and is perceived by a majority of citizens as a deterioration of standard of living.

Yesterday as a kick-off event, the ‘Technology Pioneers’ dinner was the scene for a thought-provoking discussion regarding how technology remains and even becomes more inclusive in the future. BT has been on the selection committee for WEF’s Technology Pioneers community for several years, helping them to select promising digital technologies to support and champion.

The first discussion was whether VR would be able to create a new industry, potentially larger than the existing motion pictures industry, by reinventing visual storytelling in a more inclusive manner. Early evidence from our BT Sports VR viewing statistics show that people enjoy VR "snacking" but not yet full VR meals (i.e. watching an entire game in VR). This might change in the future though, with improved image resolution and VR goggle devices becoming more comfortable.

But importantly, our conversation rapidly shifted to how tomorrow's workers will interact with data, and particularly how VR can help knowledge workers visualise data flows in a company or in a given process. There is no doubt that tomorrow's workers will need to become very skilled at generating, cleaning up and utilising massive data flows.

We anticipated that VR could help visualise the volume of data and speed of creation and consumption, while colour outliers could help identify useful models by their virtual shapes. This would allow for humans to participate effectively in data life cycle management, and these interactions between humans and algorithms also apply in software engineering. Code already generates codes, and human monitoring of this can either be useful or counter-productive, depending on when and where in the process it is applied. VR technologies could help simplify the human input in this process.

Clearly these are "geeky" examples of inclusive growth, where humans are not ostracized by machines and algorithms, but participate in the resulting efficiency gain. But there is still work to do to ensure that all humans feel at ease with the benefits of the fourth industrial revolution, both economically and also from a data privacy perspective.

Jean-Marc recently wrote for WEF Agenda on how the internet of things will power the fourth industrial revolution.