Industry 4.0 and the Human Factor

Life & Career, About Human, Society

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Let’s make this clear before we go into the topic of Industry 4.0:

Our ideas don’t belong to us.

We believe we have full and complete control over what goes through our heads.

We believe thinking is an individual and lonesome activity.

But this is not the case.

Industry 4.0: The best phrase said about Individuality / Collectiveness: “To live single and free like a tree and fraternal like a forest”

As a person who devoted himself to understanding human’s way of life in society, I find the conflict between collectiveness and individuality very attractive.

Are we in full individuality in consuming, producing, thinking, living like liberal economy has told and taught us from childhood on? Yuval Harrari, in his speech that I will share at the end of this article, claims that liberalism is actually a “religion”. While saying liberalism is a religion, he doesn’t connect this to the existence of an ancient Greek God called Liberos that thundered the skies. In his approach, the fact that a majority of the society takes liberalism as an absolute fact is what makes is a religion. This approach that puts human’s value and individual’s internal desires and wishes above everything is resembled to a religion because it is seen as a natural law that is unquestionable and undeniable.

I agree on the holiness of everyone’s right to live and the supremacy of their value that stems solely from his being human. I think this is one of the most positive discoveries in our historical development. It shows our maturity as a species. I don’t agree with what’s on the other side of liberalism. This side concludes that all the truths and realities that can be known about life is within us and that the highest value is the individual. Unfortunately, this is a complex matter that includes dualities. We can see and analyse truth only when we experience them.

What do We See Today? Industry 4.0 and Beyond

We see sharing economy. We see collective ways of making business. At the same time, we see products, services and experiences everyone has (and uses) but cannot claim for himself individually.

Kevin Kelly says that information moves in streams now, not as individual products, in his book The Inevitable. The sharing of news and posts through Twitter’s info-stream, Instagram’s photo-stream, Facebook’s “newsfeed”. In this stream; a person tweets a piece of news they see, another shares it by adding comments, a third one writes an article on it, another comments on this article… When we look at the streams of the new world within the individual ownership of the past, we can no longer answer the question “Who does this belong to?”  Because the question is wrong.

Ownership

Who does a video that has been watched, edited, remixed and re-uploaded video on YouTube belong to? Who does the main page news on Reddit – that receives 168 million unique visitors monthly – which have been curated by a big collective belong to? There is no correct answer to these questions. Because these questions aren’t questions for the mass communication, interaction, sharing and producing ways that are now changing.

The term Industry 4.0 is trending nowadays. It gets into our thinking in this new world that gets more and more collective and where cognitive interaction is inevitable, whether we want to think about it or not. It occupies our minds, makes us think. Even if you hadn’t thought of it before, it is now in your mind thanks to (or because of) me.

Traditionally Industry 4.0 is defined as the next step after the industrial revolutions of the past. It includes developments in the automatisation systems, internet notions of objects and items of cloud cognition informatics. But I don’t think this view is sufficient. Because Industry 4.0 actually has a much bigger importance and weight than simply being just another step in industrial development. It tells of the redefinition of all our thinking, communicating and production ways as humans; and of human-machine collaboration reaching levels it has never reached before.

Let’s focus on the last of these changes.

Human-machine Collaborations

While human-machine collaborations are an interesting topic of today’s conversations, they will be the most important topic that determines life dynamics of tomorrow.

Why?

Because:

  1. The most important factor in determining how we shape our individual lives in our integration to the society is where we are in the societal production system. In other words, it is what job we do.
  2. Machines will replace a majority of the jobs that provide employment today within 50 years. This will be the outcome of artificial intelligence; machine learning; and industrial and micro-automatisation trends.
  3. In the close future, most of the people will be doing jobs different than they do today. Or they will be unemployed.
  4. Prestigious jobs that used to bring a lot of income will become ordinary due to the changing chain of values. New areas of work that we don’t foresee and would find absurd today will come about. (Imagine someone saying they want to be a CRM Analyst or a Professional Videogame Player just 30 years ago. How would their parents react?)
  5. But the most important change will be in HOW we produce, not what we produce. Because people who don’t know each other will do collective, non-individual jobs that are created to be shared (products of creative commons) through uniting platforms that grow in number and develop their workings every day (Kickstarter, crew.co, Goodreads etc.).
If you ask what Industry 4.0 will change; it will change humans.

50 years from now we’ll give much different answers to the question “What is human?” although we might not be fighting less, or not have more peaceful societies.

In the answers we give, we’ll have more of the pronoun “we” rather than “I”.

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