In this photo taken Thursday, April 26, 2018, a robot entertains visitors at the booth of a Chinese automaker during the China Auto 2018 show in Beijing, China. Under Xi, a program known as "Made in China 2025" aims to make China a tech superpower by advancing development of industries that in addition to semiconductors includes artificial intelligence, pharmaceuticals and electric vehicles. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) Image Credit: AP

While a part of the world is swept by chaos, turmoil and armed conflicts, the other part is set to cope with the repercussions of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, driven by a passionate curiosity of knowledge and the future of humanity. The UAE is among a few countries that have rolled out exceptional plans, and is ready to cope with the Fourth Industrial Revolution in several areas that have direct and significant impacts on people’s lives.

The Third Industrial Revolution began in the 1950s with the development of digital systems, communication and rapid advances in computing power, which have enabled new ways of generating, processing and sharing information.

It is now on the verge of its end after reaching its peak that culminated in the use of smart applications in different fields of information technology. These modes of technology have become common even for ordinary people. The most prominent signs being the communication revolution in social networking and digital world.

Specialists say that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is mainly based on velocity, breadth, depth and systems impact, describing it as the advent of “cyber/physical systems” involving entirely new capabilities for people and machines.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has already started and is represented by artificial intelligence, mainly the use of robots, among other new products such as Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing and nanotechnology.

As part of its ongoing preparations to keep up to date with the Fourth Industrial Revolution and take advantage of disruptive technologies in various fields, robots have begun to replace humans in some jobs and locations across the UAE, including airports.

Other innovative solutions included the testing of autonomous cars and drones are some of the products of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Some people in the UAE and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are afraid of high-tech projects that will be a natural result of the unprecedented revolution, despite their awareness that the consequences of this revolution are indispensable and cannot be avoided.

Reason to be cautious

It is imperative for us to deal with this industrial revolution to ensure maximum benefit, meet pressing needs and avoid any possible harms. Definitely, there is reason to be cautious about this new technological revolution, which is necessary to human civilisation. However, the GCC and Arab societies should be at ease since the latest industrial revolution has numerous prospects to offer for humanity. So far, it is certain that the revolution will provide vast opportunities for our societies to achieve high rates of economic, social and cultural development, especially in the health-care sector, thus saving everyone’s time and effort.

Commenting on Klaus Schwab’s book The Fourth Industrial Revolution, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said: “As humankind, we were and still are passionate about the future, exploring its limits and identifying its variables. We are driven by our curiosity and passion for knowledge to explore the near future. This has affected the way we live and work.”

Technological transformation

Notably, in its preparation for the future, the UAE has made great strides in technological transformation, and is well prepared to become the world’s first hub for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, placing itself in the Centre of the future.

The UAE has also adopted an approach to invest in knowledge economy, which means making the best use of the most advanced tools and products of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

No doubt, Schwab’s book is one of the most important publications on how rapidly advanced technologies are shaping the future of the entire world. In his book, Schwab maps out an optimistic future where technology innovation — and man’s ability to harness it — becomes a powerhouse for social and economic growth.

All of this requires our understanding that the world should be well prepared legally and ethically for this revolution. It is very imperative to control smart technology products like robots specifically, and also autonomous vehicles that will hit streets in the future. It is simply to determine who is responsible in the event of any incident, and secondly and more importantly is to ensure that these hi-tech and efficient products will not have adverse effects.

Mohammad Hassan Al Harbi is a renowned columnist and author whose writings cover various fields ranging from media studies to education.