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The Fourth Industrial Revolution Is… Human

by Lynette Silva

spiral staircase imageRecognize This! – The Fourth Industrial Revolution shouldn’t be about preserving our humanity, but letting our humanity guide and direct the revolution and its outcomes.

Do you follow news out of the World Economic Forum? The Forum defines as its mission, “Engaging the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industrial agendas.” The annual meeting held in Davos does often bring forward interesting ideas and approaches to some of the most intractable problems we face, looking for solutions amongst and through the very smart and committed humans who choose to gather and expend their energies for the good of all.

This year, one of the overarching topics was: “Preserving our humanity during the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  We live in an incredible time. Everything about us is under question.”

The impetus of the discussion between luminaries Andrew R. SorkinSheryl SandbergSatya NadellaPaul KagameAnand Mahindra, and Zachary Bookman (watch the panel video here) centered on this look at the evolution of industry:

Chart showing 4 stages of industrial revolution from Davos

What does “cyber-physical systems” mean? Part of the interpretation is explained as:

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution as the trigger for a new set of norms around technology and humanity. We change technology, technology changes us.”

The point is, as technology and systems continue to rapidly advance, the role and impact of our very humanity is once again coming to the fore. It’s acknowledging that none of the advances achieved at any stage of the revolutions over the years could have been done without the intellect, ingenuity, and innovation of humans.

In reality, this next phase of industrial revolution is the human revolution. This next decade in particular is the human decade. How we design the immense infrastructure of work will, for the first time since the origins of original revolution, focus on the needs of the individual humans involved. How we invigorate, excite and engage humans to continue to advance their own skills and the success of those around them. How the machinery of the workplace (the cyber elements in the “cyber-physical systems” construct) serves to support, free, and advance the abilities of the humans to achieve greater goals.

As per the Davos discussions, this kind of transition on a grand economic scale is not easy. Davos focused on the macro impacts across economies, governments and entire populations. But you and I likely do not have a great deal of influence at that level. I choose to be of impact where and how I can. That means I choose to bring the human revolution to my desk, to my colleagues, to the customers I have the opportunity to influence.

And that’s the nature of WorkHuman – if each of us focuses on the humanity within our locus of control, we can drive the revolution from the perspective of the people in the trenches. Instead of merely reacting to macro conditions, we begin to influence change and adaptation through micro moments of caring, contribution and support for our fellow humans.

How do you see the next industrial revolution – the human revolution – impacting the workplace?

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