There is a lot of discussion and experimentation going on in the world now about the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The contribution of the first industrial revolution was the invention of the steam-engine. Power generation contributed to the Second. The third industrial revolution is also called the computer or digital revolution.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution has some qualitative differences compared to previous revolutions. In this revolution, the machine is being made intelligent. People have used instruments in previous revolutions. In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the instrument is gaining the ability to run itself.
Technology is changing very fast in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The impact of this revolution on human civilisation is very deep and wide. It may open the door to possibilities, but it will also bring new challenges.
Countries that have a lot of money will be able to make more profit by spending on research. The difference between rich and poor countries will increase. Jobs will be divided into unskilled- with low wages, and highly skilled- with high wages.
These smart devices can be bad news for Bangladesh, especially the ready-made garment industry. About four million workers work in this sector. Dependency on these workers might be reduced through the use of robots and smart devices. Many workers may become unemployed as a result.
Not just the ready-made garment industry, but dependency on many more professions will decrease, the use of robots and machines will increase. If driverless cars become widespread, the driver's job will also become unnecessary. There is a lot of research being done on driverless cars in the developed world.
So far, the only workforce we deliver in the world market is cheap labour. Robotics, AI may cause us to lose this advantage
Computers are being given artificial intelligence. AI can decide by analysing the data based on the previous situation. If the computer is trained first, the computer can guess a pattern. As a result, the computer can recognise the colour, size, posture later.
3D printing is the process of preparing something by putting layers on the design. It can be used to make complex objects (such as plastic, aluminium, ceramics, steel, etc.) without any complex equipment. It is now possible to make things on a printing machine that used to require a factory.
This will speed up the making of accessories. The cycle of 'ready from design' will be shorter. Transportation costs will be reduced, which will reduce environmental pollution.
There is a lot of research being done on the Internet of Things or IoT in the developed world. When you are ready to go home by car, your car will send a message to the home AC. The AC will turn on automatically so that when you enter the room, you get the desired temperature. Your housekeeper robot will take the snacks from the fridge and heat them in the microwave. The fridge will scan the food stored inside it, consider your eating habits, orders in online e-commerce to be placed.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is knocking at the door. The need for talent-based professions such as programmers will increase. Artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), etc. will increase the demand for skilled people. There is a shortage of skilled programmers in our country. So, we'll need to create skilled programmers.
In the developed world, there is a lot of research on blockchain, AI, robotics, driverless cars, 3D printing. All of these will have an impact on our country. So far, the only workforce we deliver in the world market is cheap labour. Robotics, AI may cause us to lose this advantage. On the other hand, the demand for people with technical knowledge and skills, including computer programmers and data analysts, will increase.
However, good news is, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division has been given a good allocation in the national budget to work with a view to developing the necessary infrastructure for the expansion of information and communication technology and to provide services to the people at their doorsteps.
The division has been asked to work on various aspects of technology to build the country as a digital Bangladesh and to make the Fourth Industrial Revolution based on technology a success.
Hiren Pandit is a Research Fellow, BNNRC