Some believe that we are in the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution. In this article, I want to explain why and see what are the government responsibilities for preparation to this future world? It all started around 18th and 19th century when rural societies started to become urban. That was the time that steam engines were invented and was called the first industrial revolution. The second industrial revolution was developed between 1870 and 1914 whereas the expansion of industries were started with oil and gas. At that time, factories started to use electricity to have massive productions and this ended up to invention of telephone and light bulb. Third revolution happened in 80s whereas computers (and later internet) were introduced. Some believe that this is not over yet and it is still ongoing. Some examples are renewable energies and autonomous cars.
Now, we are in a period of time that we can talk to devices at home to get informed about the weather and ask them to play our favorite music. We ask our navigation app on phone to help us find an address and inform us about the traffic condition. We connect to bots and they can lead us through a difficult procedure without connecting to a human agent. There are some breakthroughs on diagnosing diseases using some machines. There is a common point in all of these new gadgets. There are some digital brains that can be trained to ease our life. This is the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI) which is the most important application of the fourth industrial revolution and is based on retaining technology through communication. This term was first used by Schawb in his book “The Fourth industrial revolution”. Similar to other revolutions, citizens will see several positive and negative aspects of this change on their life. Obviously, ease of life is one of the aspects that they will feel in their life. These technologies can speed up normal processes with higher accuracy at a lower cost but the fairness to all the users is something that we cannot guarantee. There are several risks involved in decisions too. The biggest concerns are cybersecurity threads. Since we are in the beginning of this new advancement, it provides several opportunities and responsibilities. So this is Government responsibility to prepare the citizens for the future world by defining proper policies and preparing the infrastructures. Hila Mehr published a report in 2017 and described some of these responsibilities. She introduced six general considerations before moving towards AI based society. The first point is that we should see how we are using AI to solve a defined problem. It means that we are not using AI since it is “fancy” or because everybody is talking about it. Yet, we use it as a solution to handle a problem that citizens are dealing with. We need to have the citizen feedbacks throughout the procedure. Do they feel easement of using this new technology? How can we improve it based on their feedback?
The other consideration is resources. There are several resources around the government agencies. We do not want to reinvent the wheel so why don’t we use the current resources. For example, researchers and universities can provide insights about how to move towards this digitalized world.
Privacy of the end-users is an important aspect of incorporating AI. We hear a lot about cyber security attacks or threatens. Citizens should be assured that we are not sharing their sensitive information against their will. This leads us to next point which is data ethic. Nowadays, AI ethic is a hot topic. For example, there are some countries that are using surveillance mechanisms to identify criminals using AI which can be against the privacy and technology ethics. Finally, we should assure our employees that we are not substituting them by using AI. We still need them to build the system which intends to help them in their daily job. It can also create more jobs for implementing and maintenance of the systems.
This new industrial revolution, similar to all other three ones, plans to empower the social market economy. We are in the beginning of this new change and it is the government duty to prepare to society for this big change. This does not mean that they are alone in this path. They can (or should) use all the existing resources to define policies and regulations.