According to Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, the First Industrial Revolution "used water and steam power to mechanise product. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production".
The First Industrial Revolution occurred, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, across Europe and started in the United Kingdom between 1760 and approximately 1840.
The Second Industrial Revolution, according to Study.com, is believed to have occurred between 1870 and 1914. The Third Industrial Revolution, spurred by nuclear energy and the rise of electronics, saw big changes from the 1950s to the late 1970s, and is also referred to as the Digital Revolution.
Schwab says that, given the similarities between the Third and Fourth Industrial Revolutions, the two are sometimes seen as the same event. However, he gives three reasons why the Fourth Industrial Revolution is not a continuation of its predecessor:
"The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. " he says.
"Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country. And, the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance."
AI and the Fourth Industrial Revolution are inseparable
Schwab says AI is already "all around us", from self-driving cars and drones to virtual assistants and software that translates or invests.
"Impressive progress has been made in AI in recent years, driven by exponential increases in computing power and by the availability of vast amounts of data, from software used to discover new drugs to algorithms used to predict our cultural interests," he says.
Data is becoming as valuable today as precious metals and oil, as noted by The Economist. Data intelligence, the ability to analyse, produce meaningful insights, and information from data has become increasingly important as the amount of data available today continues to grow.
This is why AI, and its specifics like natural language processing, machine learning, and entity extraction, are so important to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Writer Bernard Marr, a contributor for Forbes, notes that data is the fundamental ingredient in digital transformation, with the technologies he expects to make waves in 2018 - "including IoT [Internet of Things], AI, blockchain, and edge - are all methods of collecting, analysing, and storing information".
As the Fourth Industrial Revolution continues, AI will play a key role in its development.
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