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fourth industrial revolution

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

The fourth industrial revolution is the current  and developing environment in which disruptive technologies and trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are changing the way we live and work.

The third industrial revolution, sometimes called the digital revolution, involved the development of computers and IT (information technology) since the middle of the 20th century. The fourth industrial revolution is growing out of the third but is considered a new era rather than a continuation because of the explosiveness of its development and the disruptiveness of its technologies. According to Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum and author of The Fourth Industrial Revolution, the new age is differentiated by the speed of technological breakthroughs, the pervasiveness of scope and the tremendous impact of new systems.

The first industrial revolution, in the 18th and 19th centuries, involved a change from mostly agrarian societies to greater industrialization as a consequence of the steam engine and other technological developments. The next technological age, the second industrial revolution, was driven by electricity and involved expansion of industries and mass production as well as technological advances.

The World Economic Forum provides a brief presentation about the fourth industrial revolution:

This was last updated in March 2017

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