The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Implications for Pakistan

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Implications for Pakistan

Experts urge capacity-building in policy-making and governance for the approaching Intelligence Age

Shedding light on various socio-political and policy implications of the fourth industrial revolution, an insightful session debated if we were ready to face the provocations put forward by the new age of artificial intelligence and whether we were preparing our future generations to cope with the forthcoming augmented reality?
The questions were raised in the session titled ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Implications for Pakistan’ which was organized by Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad on December 21, 2017. The session was chaired by Mirza Hamid Hasan, former secretary, Ministry of Water and Power, member IPS-National Academic Council and chairman, IPS Steering Committee on Energy, Water and Climate Change; and addressed as keynote speaker by Zaheeruddin Dar, CBI expert and executive consultant/trainer, Centre for International Entrepreneurship and Trade. DG-IPS Khalid Rahman also spoke on the occasion.
The fourth industrial revolution is characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.
Presenting a few glimpses of the future with ‘Industry 4.0’, Dar revealed that by the year 2030 according to an estimate, majority of present-day jobs would be taken over by intelligent machines leaving humans to do tasks of variant natures which will require an entirely different set of skills and mindset.
Pakistanis as a nation were still living in the second industrial era and not responding adequately to the future challenges unfolding with the wake of the fourth industrial revolution. The biggest challenge is for our governments, legislators and policy-makers who are not building their capacity to cope up with the requirements of the fast approaching intelligence age. Not adhering to the needs of the new age will only make us irrelevant, he warned.
He backed his argument stating the example of sports industry in Sialkot which was famous across the world for its wooden equipment and football manufacturing. The industry however failed to upgrade with time and as a result a big chunk of sports manufacturing was moved to other countries using advanced technologies and improved techniques.
The speaker also slated the education system in Pakistan stating that it is neither equipping the upcoming generations with modern requirements nor is it catering to the local industry’s indigenous needs. He said that the future-looking European countries such as Finland, Netherlands and Germany were experimenting with no-classroom, no-curriculum education systems whereas we in Pakistan were stuck in the race of grabbing grades.
Urging a revamp for the country’s education system keeping in view the future’s fourth industrial revolution requirements, the speaker further said that the advancements in technology were changing the lifestyles, the effect of which could easily be observed in our daily lives, the way we earn, the way we spend, etc., all of which is resulting in the transformation of society.
The amalgamation of technologies is blurring the lines between physical, digital and biological spheres. The cryptocurrency, if successful for instance, can change the face of future banking. Similarly, new business models are being adopted, new materials for manufacturing are being designed, new medicines and improved procedures for medical treatments are being tried, new means of energy storage are being explored, digital forms of capitals such as financial, venture, knowledge, and intellectuals capitals are sought, new ways of knowledge work are being defined; all of this is leading to systems with minimum human intervention, which will eventually also reflect on the role of government, geopolitical dynamics and even conventional and cyber means of warfare, he added.
Dar concluded his speech with the notion that the challenges of future are very much staring us in the face. It is us who have to make a choice of either becoming part of this inevitability as passive recipients or embracing these advancements as active participants.
Hasan echoed Dar’s views urging to develop a progressive mindset and collectively adhering to the requirements of modern times and technologies as a nation. “We can already see the shape of future and the requirements of megatrends ahead which will eventually impact businesses, governments, universities and communities. We need to prepare our workforce and systems accordingly. Whether we prepare for this eventuality or not now depends very much on us”, he said.

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