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We are the fourth industrial revolution

Man and machine have never been so close and all the repercussions are now palpable in company profits and the effects on society.

by Evita Comes
06 December 2019
4 min read
by Evita Comes
06 December 2019
4 min read

The futuristic scenarios portrayed by movie greats, which have fascinated and indoctrinated everyone on a life shared with humanoids and robots, are almost a reality. Not seeing the effects of the digitization process would be a mistake and it would be especially so in the industrial world. Smart companies are a well-established reality and their positive figures speak of a world that is growing and making money at a steady pace year after year. This exponential growth is described in the Smart Company research produced by Casaleggio Associati and carried out on 350 companies from all over the world. These are companies that have opened their doors to artificial intelligence, blockchain, 5G, the Internet of things and all the ingredients needed to join in the fourth industrial revolution that is underway. According to the research, any company that is and will be able to ride this wave will experience a 10-fold increase in production over just 5 years and be in a position to generate new business opportunities by relying on AI, blockchain, IoT and 5G.

The 5G breakthrough

The expansion and use of a more efficient network such as 5G will allow Smart Companies to review their organization and make it more sustainable, bringing in innovative services and expanding the use of the web, which has so far been prevented in many cases by coverage problems.

The other fundamental aspect of the future network will be its application to robotics. The research shows that "there will be over 4 million robots in more than 50,000 warehouses worldwide." This aspect tends to terrorize the workers of tomorrow, but in reality the digitized companies, such as Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Alphabet today, have increased the number of their employees thanks to growing profits and probably, as the research states, also maintaining certain principles: “no one is charmed by profit anymore, a smart company must have its community, society and the environment at heart, paying attention to the impact of product distribution, the protection of human rights and the environment, and to offsetting CO2.” There are people however who believe the complete opposite, that the automation of work will inexorably lead to a substantial fall in the number of places occupied by human beings, by people made of flesh and bones. As argued by this study carried out by four Dutch researchers and published by Boston University.

Yet machines are perfected by human contribution: people are one of the elements that allow systems based on artificial intelligence to function. Therefore, a machine deprived of the critical principle proper to human beings would forever remain an artificial device.

Revolutionary figures

According to estimates, the Artificial Intelligence market was worth around 20.7 billion dollars in 2018. By 2026, it will be 202.6 billion dollars, and by 2035 it is estimated that it will have a 12% impact on Italian productivity and a 40% impact in some other countries. 5G connections will increase from 5 million in 2019 to 2.6 billion in 2025. Furthermore, there will be over 4 million robots in more than 50,000 warehouses all over the world and, according to research, collaboration between robots and humans can increase production efficiency by 85 percent.

Other significant predictions about artificial intelligence are contained in research by Gartner, a multinational company involved in strategic consulting, research and analysis in the field of information technology. According to Gartner, AI is experiencing an unprecedented boom: in the last four years, the companies that have adopted it have increased by 270%, thanks above all to corporate IT managers who have made it a priority for the development and growth of their work.

Man and machine have never been as close as they are today and, as time passes, this link is becoming more and more tangible, real and apparent to all. What else can we expect? Certainly perhaps even the unthinkable and to quote the world of cinema again, a machine may even go so far as to speak the words of Andrew, the wonderful star of the film Bicentennial Man played by Robin Williams: “As a robot, I could have lived forever. But I tell you all today I would rather die a man than live for all eternity as a machine... To be acknowledged for who and what I am. No more, no less. Not for acclaim, not for approval, but the simple truth of that recognition. This has been the elemental drive of my existence, and it must be achieved, if I am to live or die with dignity.