On Tuesday October 2nd, UTM’s Experiential Education Unit held their second “Lecture Me!” event of the year at the Mississauga Central Library. The event featured Kevin Yousie, a professor in UTM’s management department, giving a talk titled “How the Fourth Industrial Revolution is Shaping How We Live.” Yousie boasts a Master of Management and Professional Accounting Award and works as the President of Crosswater Partners, a company he established in 1997, making him a trusted advisor in the Financial Services Sector.

Yousie explains that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterized by the fusing of technologies. Shaped by Big Data and executed through technology, the Fourth Industrial Revolution promises efficiency and the reshaping of how we interact with technology. Through human interaction with machines, the dawn of this new era boasts machines’ ability to perform everyday tasks in order to allow humans to optimize their time. Think of your home, your phone, your clothing, your appliances, and your car as a personal assistant. These objects will gather data and perform mundane tasks to optimize your productivity and quality of life.

According to Yousie, the Fourth Industrial Revolution manifests itself in four ways: monitoring, control, optimization, and autonomy. These four become the goal of technology and industries of the future.

Yousie used the story of Janet NG, a fictional character he created, to show how new technologies will affect everyday life. Dictating a day through Janet’s life, Yousie revealed the current and emerging technologies further optimizing daily life through banking, driving, and health and medicine. Janet was aided by technology, such as an intelligent self-monitoring furnace with the ability to schedule appointments with a repair team, a fridge able to monitor and report on daily usage that creates shopping lists and orders through Amazon, and Lyft with its autonomous robotaxi that brings her home without ever meeting a human driver. Janet controlled all these tasks through her smart phone—receiving reports and “allowing” her smart appliances to complete mundane tasks at her command.

“This future is closer than we could imagine” says Yousie.

With Toyota to invest $500 million in Uber and Ford $1 billion in Lyft, the companies plan on radically changing the landscape of transportation. GM plans to eradicate most of its existing car production and focus on robotaxis. This is a growing trend, explains Yousie, who mentions Uber buying 24,000 self-driving cars. In Tokyo, the plan is to have robotaxis, completely autonomous ride sharing vehicles, running the show during the 2020 Olympics.

Based on Boston Consulting Groups prediction, Yousie explains that “by 2030 shared, self-driving electric vehicles will make up a quarter of passenger-miles on American roads.” Considering that this would reduce the number of cars on the road by 60%, emissions by 80%, and road accidents by 90%, the future seems safer.

In finance, Yousie claims that monitoring devices that affect insurance are in the making. These include activity monitors, driving monitors, and health monitors that report to your insurance companies and doctors, and reward safe drivers and active lifestyles in a way that credit scores reward the financially wary.

With the advent of these new technologies comes a restructuring of society—human jobs replaced by machine work, labor market disruptions, social tensions, and anxiety about privacy. Careers in STEM will become more important than ever, and the ubiquity of self-monitoring and reward based on risk will make bodies more docile.

In the Fourth Industrial Revolution benefits may become easier to reap. Work in Nanotechnology promises easier cancer and disease treatment, the need for human value guarantees high pay for high skills, and the rolling out of these technologies on a global scale points to the potential to raise global income level.

Yousie concludes that we’re living in VUCA conditions. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will bring vulnerability, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. In it, “adaptability will be the new competitive advantage.”

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