What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Defined by emerging technologies such as AI, gene editing, and 3D printing, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is here, and the World Economic Forum hopes that it benefits everyone.

What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Dan Patterson, a Senior Producer for CBS News and CNET, interviewed Murat Sönmez, director of the World Economic Forum, about technology and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The following is an edited transcript of the interview. 

Dan Patterson: What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and why should I, as a citizen of democracy, care?

Murat Sönmez: We've seen industrial revolutions in history--from the steam engine to electricity to computerization--but they have always been driven by a single innovation. In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we're seeing a simultaneous development across artificial intelligence, drones, autonomous vehicles, gene editing, new materials, and 3D printing. These are all game changing technologies happening at the same time. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is simultaneous developments in multiple areas.

The second differentiation is, it's happening much faster. Before we can figure out what it is--how we can use it for beneficial purposes--people are already using it, and we're seeing that in social media and other areas. It's a lot of things happening simultaneously and much faster.

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Dan Patterson: Murat, you said something really interesting there a few times: Simultaneous development of these technologies, but we don't see simultaneous access to these technologies. Can you help me understand the difference between what is accessible in the developing world versus established democracies?

Murat Sönmez: That's a very key question because, for the last 40 years through the industrial revolutions,we've also already seen the gap between the privileged few and the rest of the world. Where now, we have the potential for that privileged few to take advantage of variables and live healthy lives, longer lives, more productive in cleaner environments, and the rest of the society falls way behind. That's not morally right; it's not socially right; it's not economically right. That's one thing inside a country.

Our goal at the World Economic Forum is to ensure that all of these benefit everyone--not just a few--and we have an initiative on this. But there is also a risk that countries who don't take advantage of this will be forever left behind in the global scene, and it will create an even more fractured world, where countries who will take advantage of this and others who will be forever left behind.

Watch more interviews with Dan Patterson and Murat Sönmez

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