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The 4th Industrial Revolution

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Matunda Nyanchama

December 18th, 2019

Public Lecture notes for a speech at the University of Kabianga on December 18th, 2019 by Matunda Nyanchama, PhD

I want to thank Prof. Elijah Omwenga, Dr. Mary Wosyanju and Mr. Wanyama for making it possible for me to be here today. Let me hasten to add that I am very privileged to be here, not only because of the many brainy heads we have around but also that not many of my kind get a chance to speak to such cherished audience. And one of my greatest pleasures while at university was to attend such lectures and listen to perspectives that I could not easily get in class!


I am here to speak to you about a fast-changing world of great, impactful, and creative disruption and many emerging opportunities. As you are aware, change can render irrelevant existing conditions and in its place emerge something more relevant to the time. And when opportunities present themselves, there are always accompanying risks; in the same breath, when there are risks, there are also opportunities.

There is a consensus that we are in the middle of an industrial revolution, dubbed the 4th Industrial Revolution! I want to share with you some lessons from past revolutions, what we can learn from them and how we can position ourselves to maximize advantage from the ongoing 4th Industrial Revolution.

As I get into my subject, feel free to forget everything I say today, but remember the words of futurist Alvin Toffler and author of Future Shock that:

  • “Change is not merely necessary to life — it is life.” So do what you may, but change will always be with us. His wife and co-author added that in life “change is the only constant.”
  • Such change, as much as it can be costly, also offers new opportunities. Change has been at the centre of death of many industries but from the same change, new ones have been born. Joseph Schumpeter has termed this creative destruction. The 4IR, like other revolutions before it, will cause its own destruction. At the time, there will emerge other forms of industries, relationships, processes and forms of organization. And like all revolutions, there will be losers and beneficiaries. I bet you don’t want to be on the losing end!
  • Alvin Toffler also suggested that in this continuously changing environment, we must learn, unlearn and relearn. It is the only way to adopt and adapt to ever-changing circumstances. His precise quote goes thus: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”
  • It calls for us not only to adopt change but also be agile enough to adapt to the change if we are to survive the inevitable change!

Industrial Revolution Defined

So what is an industrial revolution?

In simple terms, an industrial revolution is a period of major transformation!

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, ‘the term Industrial Revolution was first popularized by the English economic historian Arnold Toynbee (1852–83) to describe Britain’s economic development from 1760 to 1840.’ It was a period of substantial transformation in European society (starting with Britain) from where it spread across the world. Arnold Toynbee was describing what has become known as the 1st Industrial Revolution.

Industrialization is not kind to all. It victimizes individuals (or groups) while it benefits others. It leaves, in its wake, devastation while new creations emerge in what Joseph Schumpeter terms creative destruction. Here creative destruction is defined as a process of “continuous product and process innovation by which new productions [and services] replace outdated ones” (Ricardo J. Caballero, 2019).

Some (notably Michael McAllum 2014) have observed that such industrial revolutions occur “when there is a radical shift in energy and communication technologies, acting in concert, [and resulting in] a fundamental reframing of every aspect of a society or societies”.


For there to be a 4th Industrial Revolution, it means there were first, second and third industrial revolutions. Collectively, these revolutions advanced human progress largely because of innovations and advancement of (especially) scientific knowledge. These revolutions don’t have a clear cut start and end times, but each melded into the other and ratcheted up things from the previous one.

The First Industrial Revolution

1st Industrial revolution – 1760 to 1840 – water and the steam engine, the shift from craft production in homes to simple machines in factories, and the rise of the iron and textile industries.

This 1st Industrial Revolution lasted approximately 80 years, between 1760 and 1840; prior to that, people’s lives (and here we are referring to England) were largely agrarian. They mainly worked on the family land and grew their food with a degree of dependence on the community they lived in. They made their own clothing through weaving various forms of fabrics; people hardly moved around as means of transportation were limited, and there were hardly any corporations.

The 1st Industrial Revolution happened with the coming of water transportation, mainly through canal systems.  The invention of the steam engine was a landmark of this period, and there was a shift from craft production in homes to the use of simple machines in factories; this era saw the emergence of the iron and steel industries, in addition to textile manufacturing. Key changes included:

  • the use of new basic materials, chiefly iron and steel,
  • invention and widespread use of the steam and internal combustion engine as well as the use of new energy sources such as coal, petroleum, coal, and electricity;
  • the invention of more efficient machines (at the time) including the spinning jenny and loom which permitted more efficient and effective production;
  • the coming of the factory system which required division of labour and specialization and hence mass production of goods;
  • new modes of communication such as the telegraph and radio
  • Increased application of science to industry (Encyclopaedia Britannica).

“The first Industrial Revolution — and most technological developments preceding it – had little or no scientific base. It created a chemical industry with no chemistry, an iron industry without metallurgy, power machinery without thermodynamics. Engineering, medical technology, and agriculture until 1850 were pragmatic bodies of applied knowledge in which things were known to work, but rarely was it understood why they worked.” – Joel Mokyr, 1999.

Other developments in the nonindustrial spheres, included (Encyclopaedia Britannica):

  • Agricultural improvements that made possible to feed large non-agricultural populations,
  • Economic changes that resulted in a wider distribution of wealth, the decline of land as a source of wealth in the face of rising industrial production, and increased international trade,
  • Political changes reflecting the shift in economic power, as well as new state policies corresponding to the needs of industrialized society,
  • Sweeping social changes, including the growth of cities, the development of working-class movements, and the emergence of new patterns of authority, and
  • Cultural transformations of a broad order. Workers acquired new and distinctive skills, and their relation to their tasks shifted; instead of being craftsmen working with hand tools, they became machine operators, subject to factory discipline. Finally, there was a psychological change: confidence in the ability to use resources and to master nature was heightened.
  • [Note that there were a number of pre-conditions that triggered the changes; we shall not address these pre-conditions as time will not allow. However, key factors included population, work ethic, political stability that allowed investment, etc.]

The Second Industrial Revolution

2nd Industrial Revolution – enhanced by the combustion engine – 1850 through 1920, – electric power, telephony, the rise of the chemical, prominence of steel and petroleum industries, and the introduction of modern business management systems. 1920s – 1970s

  • It had a major impact on transportation with the use of steam locomotives, steamships, automobiles and, ultimately, the airplane,
  • It saw the systematic use of science and technology, unlike before; there were accumulation and loop-back between documented and ‘how-to’ knowledge types; this led to new technologies that ended up reaching farther than was the case before,
  • It brought major impacts through organized (mass) production that saw industries (such as chemical, steel, and petroleum) grow in large economies of scale and throughput. (See Joel Mokyr, 1999). Notable personality: Henry Ford in his factory in Detroit and the assembly line,
  • It saw the growth of technology systems – the railroad, telegraph system, urban water systems, urban lighting, etc. It transformed large technological systems from exceptions and made them commonplace. (See Joel Mokyr, 1999),
  • Ideas moved faster than before, what with newspapers, telegraph, radio, and television,
  • It here that we find the introduction of modern business management systems, especially between the 1920s to 1970s.

The Third Industrial Revolution

3rd Industrial Revolution – based on IT – shift from traditional fossil fuels to renewable energy – semiconductors and integrated circuits (1950s),  followed by mainframe computers (1960s and 1970s), personal computers (1980s) and the Internet (1990s)

  • 3rd Industrial Revolution was largely fueled by Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) and some people suggest that this is ongoing,
  • Semiconductors and integrated circuits (1950s), followed by mainframe computers (1960s and 1970s), personal computers (1980s) and the Internet (1990s),
  • Led to realizations such as automated manufacturing which increased efficiency driven by software. The Economist cites the Nissan factory in Europe that was commissioned in 1986 as one of the most productive ever! It sees more output but with few people,
  • Ushered in manufacturing on-demand rather than mass manufacturing due to flexibility brought about by technology,
  • Automated supply chains; a good example Walmart in the USA that has become more of a logistics company than a retailer,
  • The emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT),
  • Brought about a fundamental shift in focus from conventional fossil fuels to renewable energy – collaborative common.

4th Industrial Revolution

The 4th Industrial Revolution: smart factories, cyber-physical systems, self-organization, intelligent networks, new systems in distribution and procurement, new systems in the development of products and services, adaptation to human needs, and corporate social responsibility – sustainability – horizontal expansion of ICT across all industries


see for example.

  • A more detailed definition is provided by Global Trends (2013:1) defines the 4th Industrial revolution as a set of:
    • “social and economic activities that demonstrate characteristics such as Internet/mobile technology platforms and ubiquitous sensors that offer an information-rich environment, that are built on global reach, allow instant/real-time information flows, provides access 24/7, anywhere, and support multiple, virtual, connected networks.” (Lorraine Eden, 2018)
  • At the centre of the 4IR are technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud Computing, 3D Printing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Advanced Robotics (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), BlockChain (BC) and Gene Editing;
    • Internet of Tings – or internet of everything – estimated to be 58 billion objects by 2020 with approximate annual growth of 20% according to Gartner, a market research company;
    • Cloud computing – computing system as a service – allows for low CAPEX; Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Safaricom are in this game
    • 3D printing (also called additive manufacturing) – making customizable objects from a digital model – allows for customization of items; – can reduce the cost and speed of building – in the USA there have been cases of doing a 500 sq ft home in 12 hours;
    • Artificial Intelligence (mainly machine learning) – IBM’s Watson, Google’s search suggestions; Amazon’s book options, etc.
    • Advanced Robotics – e.g. manufacturing, assistants (e.g. for diagnosis), etc.
  • Facilitated by high-speed global networks and impacts us in many ways, including changing the way we live and work and ushering in new business models based on Big Data;
  • Key features include mobility (velocity/speed), network effects, and data usage (European Commission Report (2014),
  • In this ecosystem are real-time monitoring, coordination, and integration of information from cyber-physical systems with monitoring capabilities. This hyper-connectivity has machine-to-machine, machine-to-human, and human-to-human connections,
  • The 4IR brings with it accelerated globalization and blurs physical boundaries of states, something that was ushered in by the advent of the Internet;
  • We can expect  accelerated on-demand economy, i.e. immediate access to goods and services – with ease, speed, and convenience; imagine the food delivery system, we are already doing this with books on demand, i.e. we print what has been ordered,
  • Changes how citizens interact with government – unlike the routine 8:00 am – 5:00 pm office hours, we can interact with government on a 24×7 basis. … In Kenya, the eCitizen Portal and services such as iTax give these examples.
  • Platform or sharing economy: examples include Uber, Airbnb, global workplace, etc.,
  • Accelerated creative destruction on a massive scale due to 4IR disruptive technologies (recall Uber?); massive information and data analytics (Lorraine Eden 2018);

The key drivers of the 4IR include:  

  • Information Communication Technologies (ICT) and other emerging technologies;
  • Innovation that allows of the emergence of new goods, services, and new business models;
  • Education and Training – future skills – that is skilled, innovative and technological savvy (Manda & Backhouse, 2017);
  • Policy Innovation: adaptive and flexible policy formulation approaches that encourage experimentation, iteration and progression
  • Responsive & context-specific strategies

Impact of 4th IR & Consequences

  • It changes how we live, how we work and (possibly) how we are governed,
  • “The societal impacts of the 4th Industrial Revolution also appear likely to be far-reaching, resulting not only in the social and economic impacts of the loss of many current jobs, but also fundamental, and increasingly volatile shifts in the nature of work and future jobs, and in how public and private services will be delivered.” (Impact of 4IR, 2019).
  • Continuous data generation; use of AI will increase machine intelligence;
  • Revolution in production, making it flexible and efficient; energy savings and responsive to the environment; allows for mass customization (e.g. individualized shoes, clothing, etc.) – rather than mass production,
  • The emergence of completely new jobs, some of which we cannot imagine today; some estimates suggest that up to 65% of kids entering primary school today will work in jobs that don’t exist today,
  • Massive job automation up to 50% in some estimates, e.g. in the OECD countries; some estimates suggest that up to 67% of jobs have the potential to be automated:
    • The jobs that can be automated are those that “… have some level routine, are repetitive and predictable” (Martin Ford 2019);
    • Machine costs are unlikely to match worker employment wages. Some studies suggest that “machine learning can improve production capacity by up to 20%” and reduce raw materials waste by 4% – National Institute of Standards, USA.
    • Jobs in the factory, warehousing, telemarketing, and the like are at peril. Others include law clerks, include credit analysts, financial advisors, mathematical technicians all stand to be automated. Some of these are based on Big Data that can be done better using computers.
  • Greater inequality with the disappearance of low-skill, low complexity jobs; robots and computers will take these jobs,
  • The rise of the Gig Economy where temporary contracts, short-term engagements, and independent contracting would be the norm. Consequently, individuals may have several simultaneously-held jobs for a number of companies; and it could spell the end of full-time work (Impact of 4IR, 2019),
  • But there are also jobs that are likely to survive as they cannot be automated easily. These are jobs that require creativity, and knowledge on how to design, deploy and manage new technologies such as robotics, autonomous transport, new energy supplies, and 3D printers. Examples include:
    • Machine trainers, AI engineers to design and test AI on advanced machines and robots,
    • Those that require human interaction such as sales engineers, health workers that require interpersonal skills, teamwork and leadership that machines cannot provide,
    • Jobs for personalized healthcare to deal with, especially, the aging population[1],
    • Jobs like politician, clergy, etc. are unlikely to be replaced by machines,
    • Jobs that are highly unpredictable such as emergency responses, policing, firefighters, etc.
    • Training/retraining and education: as more jobs are lost, others would want to transition to new jobs and hence will require retraining. – Education will involve greater creativity – i.e. take education content and seek how to apply it.

Perhaps the scarcest resource in an era driven by digital technologies will be those people who can create new ideas and innovations. …. talent, more than capital, will represent the critical factor of production. People with ideas, not workers or investors, will be the scarcest resource. (Brynjolfsson, McAfee, and Spence 2014).

Risks of 4IR

  • AI gone rogue
  • Developing human machines that have superior intelligence than a human being – imagine a machine that can digest all knowledge there is on the internet – the example of IBM’s Watson beating the best chess players

Examples of Opportunities:

  • The 4IR is not all gloom and doom! For sure there will be disruption and technologies (as seen before) change existing business models and enhance services. Creative destruction theory, however, holds that new business models and hence opportunities will arise,
  • Lower barriers between inventors and markets: New technologies, like this 3D printing, allow entrepreneurs with new ideas to establish small companies with lower start-up costs. The entrepreneur can bring the product ‘to reality’ with 3D printing, without the traditional time constraints often encountered with traditional prototyping methods. The typical barriers to entry are removed from the marketing equation,
  • Improved quality of our lives as robots have the potential to improve the quality of lives at home, work, and many other places. Customized robots will create new jobs, improve the quality of existing jobs, and give people more time to focus on what they want to do – a 4-day work week anyone!
  • The interconnection of these embedded devices would usher in automation in nearly all fields, while also enabling advanced applications like a smart grid, and expanding to areas such as smart cities.


  • Having the right skills to meet the demands of the time as well as adaptability will be a tall order for many, except for those that are prepared,
  • Having the requisite infrastructure to compete globally; for example, do we have the necessary connectivity to take advantage of opportunities? Are our institutions well-integrated to maximize on the opportunities ahead?
  • Cybersecurity and privacy will be hard to manage (Lambert 2017). Imagine being connected with a machine and all your life is observed constantly with the information accessible to a lot of other devices, people and machines that you may not be aware of!

So what do we do?

We need to ask “so what if the 4th Industrial Revolution is with us? It is neither the first nor is it prescribed to be the last. In any case, why should we care?”

The right question, though, is are we ready to reap the benefits of the 4IR or shall we sit there and be run over like roadkill!

In Gusii there a story of a famous seer by the name Sakagwa Ng’iti who lived till the late 1890s; he is famed to have warned that there will be plenty of ‘mushrooms’ at Getembe (present-day Kisii Town) and only those with energetic young men would harvest the bounty. By mushrooms, he meant, according to many people’s understanding, new forms of wealth! … His warning, translated to modern times, would mean: all those prepared would partake of the bounty that would be there!

What kind of preparedness do we need to partake of the 4IR? And are we ready for it? If so, to what degree? If not, why not?

I posit that we need preparedness in at least three fronts:

  • As a country
  • As institutions like the University of Kabianga
  • And as individuals, be it, students, staff or faculty at a place like Kabianga

To establish an approach to preparedness and the level thereof, let’s remind ourselves that like all industrial revolutions, the 4th Industrial Revolution has its own consequences:

  • There, inevitably, will be creative destruction, i.e. some things will die and will be replaced by new ones! Old jobs (like repetitive algorithmic ones) will be done better and more efficiently by robots while new ones will emerge; old relationships (be it between people, machines and systems) will be reshaped while new associations will emerge; old wealth could become obsolete while new forms of wealth will thrive.

What we can do as a country

For a start, we need to analyze and define our competitive advantage. For example, we have a large proportion of youth, we have land and diversity of culture that could inform such a competitive edge.

And while our ICT infrastructure is not perfect, it is more advanced than what we see with our competitors.

That said, we need to think about the skills of the future and, moving quickly, put in place measures that would shape the labour market. We must think about how we can reskill and retool that which we have while putting in place long term plans that tap into future workers.

Kenya is seen as leaders in innovation and the efforts come largely from an individual or corporate effort. And while the government has created a National Innovation Fund (NIF), its effect has yet to be felt. To capitalize on the country’s innovation potential not only must we have the right policies but also a faithful implementation of the same. The need to reorganize the innovation space has never been more urgent. It includes support for innovation from ideas to prototypes to pilot to full rollout and scaling.

And many areas need solutions and they range from healthcare to education to food security, name it! As an example, we register 40% post-harvest loses in the food sector. Just imagine the impact that (stemming the losses) would have on feeding the nation! My hunch is that the answer lies with data science and blockchain technology, both 4IR approaches.

We need solutions in primary healthcare tapping into data science as a means of designing appropriate interventions.

And there are many more areas calling for solutions!

The need for (Kenyan-owned) risk capital has never been greater lest we wake up one day and realize that our entire innovation outcomes are owned by foreigners!

Our intellectual property regime needs to be streamlined and responsive to our current needs. There is a Kenya Intellectual Property Institute that should become more proactive and ensure that it protects Kenyans as per its mandate.


We need to do our education differently so that, rather than focusing on examinations, we aim at developing the total human potential. I posit the following:

  • Let’s redefine the purpose of education: prepare kids with the global picture in mind. Let’s not simply focus on IQ only but also Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Adaptation Intelligence (AQ). Let’s build ethics in our school system so that we can produce future workers that serve the nation and humanity. The recently introduced Competency-Based Curriculum may address this to some degree!
  • 4IR education and training – are we ready with the skills of the future?
    • 4IR skills, including creativity and the like: let creative imagination flow; just imagine the link between science fiction and development – visions of tomorrow mirroring contemporary hopes;
    • In a paper titled Entrepreneurship, Education and the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Africa (UNECA, 2015) the authors observe that Africa is not investing enough in education. Africa, they write, has
      • the lowest enrolment and completion rates in primary school, compared to other parts of the world,
      • has the lowest participation rates compared to other parts of the world
      • the highest pupil-teacher ratio
      • spends about $130 per child on education per annum which is only 10% of the world average.
      • Clearly, we need to do more!

 (UNECA, 2015). – Entrepreneurship, Education and the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Africa

Here are more things we need to do to maximize benefits from the 4th Industrial Revolution:

  • How we deliver education: teachers as guides/facilitators in the education process rather than individuals that impact knowledge; education would become more individualized rather than delivered without taking care of the individual differences. – once again the CBC in Kenya promises this; implementation will be the key.
  • STEM Balanced with Liberal Arts: We need an emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) balanced with a dose of humanities, including ethics, coupled with capabilities such as EQ & IQ
  • Develop and invest in creativity: machines will be limited in what they will offer; creative endeavors, imagination, critical thinking, social interaction, and physical dexterity are essential to augment machines,
  • Adaptability and long-life learning: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock, 1970.  He also added that “Change is not merely necessary to life — it is life.” “Technology feeds on itself. Technology makes more technology possible.” And Change is the only constant.” – The question is how we inculcate this from the beginning so that it becomes part of our daily conduct.
  • Schools as a Marketplace of ideas: to help build curiosity, imagination problem-solving skills and iterations, and refinement. Setbacks should not be seen as a failure but powerful lessons to inform the next iteration.
  • International Orientation: with global connectivity, Kenyan children aren’t competing with other Kenyans but the global pool. We need to understand what the rest of the world is doing. … need to include global history as well.
  • Higher Education Reforms: higher education will need to incorporate long-life learning with training and retraining to heel feed adaptability of the workforce.

And there is more do to get the country ahead:

Work ethnic – self-discipline – the Protestant Work Ethic is a good example and cited for the breakthroughs made in England and the Americas! In this country, aside from reforming and understanding the purpose of education, we need to underline the value of work and why we go to work. Work should not be transactional where I come in, do my thing and get paid. It should be about more: about this business you are working for, about the entity staying afloat, paying taxes and contributing to the common good!  We need to cultivate the culture of taking pride in what one earns through hard work as opposed to just focus on making money any which way!

The issue of land in Kenya. We need land reforms, yes. More radically, we need to go through a social transformation that does not place land at the very centre of every individual. Today, everyone I know is looking for a kaplot someplace. Yet, if we continue subdividing land at the rate we are doing, the process is not sustainable.  We need to redefine other forms of wealth and the basis upon which we live.

In 1798 Thomas Malthus warned that the population would outstrip the capacity of land to feed the people. He observed that, while the population increased geometrically, the food supply increased arithmetically. Malthus cautioned that population growth always outstrips the capacity of the land to feed the people and that the result is bound to be misery, malnutrition, and vice. That had been true for generations, but Britain discovered ways to break out of this vicious circle. 4IR opportunities could help us create other forms of wealth: … here is a radical new way: land consolidation and mass urbanization.

Gender-related issues – women in the workplace and exploitation of their potential; should not be done at the expense of men, though.

Ethnicity: We need to remember that we are competing globally and not with the next guy who was born into a different ethnic group

Corruption: … need I say more!

What can we do as an institution?

Old institutions are hampered by old ways and can easily be surpassed by younger, more agile ones. As a relatively young institution, the University of Kabianga the agility to set out on her own path and become different.

Are education programmes, say in Kabianga designed based on evidence? Or are you teaching courses because that has been the case or because that is what others are doing? What is the relevance of what we are doing and how do we differentiate ourselves from the crowd?

  • I suggest to you that you set a path on some road that will distinguish you from the rest. – extend your tentacles beyond Kenya & Africa: – teaching and research – and ensure to feature heavily in the ‘knowledge production index’.
  • The character of an institution that would succeed in the future is one that is (a) agile, (b) adaptable and (c) a continuously learning institution. Such an institution would embrace creativity, focus beyond the horizon and would dare to be different.
  • Digital skills are essential: question? Are we producing enough in this space? … there is a need for automation and big data analysis capabilities that would connect stakeholders of a system to create smart networks that transmit real-time data. How much is the institution investing in this space both from a teaching and research perspective?

Digital skills are definitely the most required. In addition, other important elements are automation and big data analysis that connect all stakeholders of a system and create a smart network that transmits real-time data (A. Petrillo, et al. 2017);

What problems are we solving? And to what extent are we using modern 4IR techniques? Kenya’s immediate problems: food security, health care, security, education, environment, etc.

  • Food: in a recent Royal Society address points out, “no civilization (and ours is now global) can avoid collapse if it fails to feed its population.” – Paul Ehrlich. Stats show 40% post-harvest losses – can we use 4IR techniques to solve some these problems – IoT, big data, blockchain, AI
  • How about healthcare? – calls for big data, AI,
  • How can we deliver education meaningfully using 4IR techniques?

As Students

Ladies and gentlemen, the world is changing. As a young person preparing for a future of rapid communication, connectivity, and disruption, what should you be doing and what preparedness do you need? In this respect.

Three forms of intelligence: You are going to need not just your Intelligence Quotient (IQ) but also your Emotional Intelligence and Adaptability Quotient (AQ).

  • IQ lets into a job because of your qualification.
  • EQ allows you to relate and work with others – things like teamwork, empathy and self-awareness. (
  • AQ helps to adapt to changing circumstances, e.g. when you go into a new organization or when you retrain/reskill and start a new job requiring a completely different knowledge domain altogether.

Note that leading companies are dropping the matter of recruitment based on grades! … some of these companies have called certificates as worthless in recruitment. “‘No evidence’ that success at university is linked to achievement in professional assessments.” – Ernst & Young, 2015.

Beware that your university degree is only part of the story of your long term career: and you might change careers more than once – it means continually learning, adaptability and a high degree of emotional intelligence.

It is thus important to understand where the world is going. Aside from 4IR skills, one needs to understand the practices of the future for workers. As Canadian Wayne Gretzky, one of the greatest ice hockey players once said:

“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been; a good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be. – Wayne Gretzky

As such, we need the power to anticipate where the future is going to be. And how do we do this? Often, we need to think out of the box, i.e. look for the unconventional. The idea is to anticipate where change be and be in a position to take advantage of that change. This can be realized, to a degree, through studying and reading widely. Follow global trends and understand where the world is going and position yourself accordingly.

Ironically, the way to correct a problem caused by industrialization was with more industrialization. Historians recognize that there’s a close correlation between a society’s wealth and its ability to clean up the environment.


I want to go back to where we started!

The world is experiencing the 4IR and history tells us that this change is part of human development that has brought both benefits and losses to humanity.

We must thus remember, as Alvin Toffler says:

  • “Change is not merely necessary to life — it is life.” So do what you may, but change will always be with us. His wife and co-author of many books added that in life “change is the only constant.”
  • Such change, as much as it can be costly, also offers new opportunities. Change has been at the centre of death of many industries but from the same change new ones have been born – creative destruction. … And like all revolutions, there will be losers and beneficiaries. And you don’t want to be on the losing end!
  • Alvin Toffler also suggested that in this continuously changing environment, we must learn, unlearn and relearn. It is the only way to adapt to ever-changing circumstances. His precise quote goes thus: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”
  • It calls for us not only to adopt the change but also be agile enough to adapt to the change if we are to survive the inevitable change!
    • You need IQ, EQ & AQ

Let me leave you with the words of one of the greatest ice hockey players Wayne Gretzky

  • You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take. – Wayne Gretzky – take a risk and create chances of a payoff; remember that nothing ventured means nothing will be gained!
  • Hockey is a unique sport in the sense that you need each and every guy helping each other and pulling in the same direction to be successful. – Wayne Gretzky – as a people we need each other to get to where we should be: as individual citizens, as institutions, and as a country!
  • – Wayne Gretzky (see


Dr. Patrick N. Allitt. Human capital & adaptable social systems: an interest in science, technology, and innovation; a willingness to experiment; and a belief that the future might be different from today in  The Industrial Revolution, A Guide Book, The Smithsonian 2014.

Ricardo J. Caballero, MIT Economics, accessed November 13, 2019).

Lorraine Eden, Professor of Management, Texas A&M University. The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Seven Lessons from the Past. July 18, 2018

Encyclopaedia Britannica (see accessed November 11, 2019).

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means and how to respond | World Economic Forum

Joel Mokyr. The Second Industrial Revolution, 1870-1914. Northwestern University. In Valerio Castronovo, ed., Storia dell’economia Mondiale. Rome: Laterza Publishing, 1999, pp. 219-245.

Martin Ford 2016.  Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future.

Michael McAllum, Futures Architect. Why We Are at the Start of a Third Industrial Revolution. 2014 see, accessed November 13, 2019.

The ‘canary in the coming disaster mine’ is our food system. As Paul Ehrlich in a recent Royal Society address points out, “no civilization (and ours is now global) can avoid collapse if it fails to feed its population.”

Bernard Marr. 8 Things Every School Must Do To Prepare For the 4th Industrial Revolution. (accessed November 16, 2019)

Impact of 4IR, 2019. The Impacts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on Jobs and the Future of the Third Sector November 17, 2019)

Petrillo, et al. 2017 Antonella Petrillo, Fabio De Felice, Raffaele Cioffi and Federico Zomparelli in Fourth Industrial Revolution: Current Practices, Challenges, and Opportunities 2017— (accessed November 17, 2019).

Jeremy Rifkin. The Third Industrial Revolution How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World. Palgrave Macmillan. 2011


[1] By some estimates, there will be more than 300 million people in the world over the age of 65 by 2030.


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