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Industry 4.0 and Beyond to 6.0


There has been quite a lot of discussion around Industry 4.0. Overall, I thought it was a good differentiation between the steps of industrialization, but I always feel that if you're on to something really good, you should be able to predict where it will go. Lets do the basics and break it down briefly and then really focus on what it tells us about our future lives and what we can predict will happen over the next 1000 years.

To start, there is the basic Industry 4.0 diagram. While its a good start and is strong in its premise of the steps of industrialization, it falls short in the description of the past, which is still a foundation to the industrial process, and it does not attempt to describe where it will go next. It is important to realize that the various stages of industrialization do not take place everywhere at once and just like every new technology, they are adopted and implemented in different ways by different cultures in their own time and often in surprising ways.

The Infographic of Industry 4.0:

Credit to Christoph Roser for the graphic. I will later build on this graphic and give all credit to him for the idea.

The Stages of the Industrial revolution are as follows (1.0 thru 4.0):

1st - Mechanization is the stage where we develop machines that perform work without direct human intervention. The building of complex machinery took place back in ancient Greece and other cultures and was largely lost during the Middle ages where the Roman empire was broken and civilization in the Western world fell into decline. I often feel that the mill stones that were run by water power are excellent examples of Stage 1, when we see the beginnings of harnessing nature and natural processes to do work for us. Windmills in the Netherlands is another example as well as the steam powered engine, when mechanical engineering and the sciences of chemistry, mathematics and physics begins to take shape and combine to form new understanding and predictability. To some this started in 1784 with the first mechanical loom, but I would place it further back.

2nd - With the ability to have machines do the work of man and domesticated animals, we have more time to focus on productivity and efficiency. We learned much of the physical world and used this knowledge to harness chemical and natural energy sources to make electricity and extend our abilities to survive and thrive in more places around the world. With this came the introduction of the electrically-powered mass production line and the philosophy of division of labor, although we had labor roles within our society of over 75,000 years of survival. This took it to a new level with each individual being responsible for only a very small part of a final product, instead of one person being responsible for the whole process. BTW, the first production line was not in Henry Ford's automobile plant, it was a Cincinnati slaughterhouse in the 1870's.

3rd - As each stage builds upon itself, we see the rise of machine automation and machines start replacing people and assisting in building other machines. As machines took over the menial tasks of muscle, the mind is left freer to learn and expand on human technology. Science led to semi-conductor products and the computer age began. Initially, Hardware costs were the bulk of the expense for CAD, but this shifted as hardware was mass produced and the very important software became much more sophisticated. This stage began in 1969 with the first programmable logic controller that could be connected to physical hardware.

4th - Semi-conductor and additional scientific breakthroughs led to better sensors and feedback mechanical systems, better robotic manufacturing processes. As software becomes more sophisticated and better able to sense the environment, CAM systems produce quality beyond what human beings can reproduce. This has lead to the new term of Cyber Physical Systems, which is a mechanism controlled by software. It is bringing together digital, mechanical and biological systems. Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) are integrations of computation, networking, and physical processes. Embedded computers and networks monitor and control the physical processes, with feedback loops where physical processes affect computations and vice versa. The economic and societal potential of such systems is vastly greater than what has been realized, and major investments are being made worldwide to develop the technology. The technology builds on the older (but still very young) discipline of embedded systems, computers and software embedded in devices whose principle mission is sensing computation, such as cars, toys, medical devices, and scientific instruments. CPS integrates the dynamics of the physical processes with those of the software and networking, providing abstractions and modeling, design, and analysis techniques for the integrated whole. We are in the midsts of this revolution now and part of it is sometimes referred to as the "internet of things".

So Where will they Take US?

I think that many of us realize that the 4th stage can bring about miracles of science and could liberate human beings from many of the labor intensive and physical difficulties of life. We could debate if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but to me, its going to be a moot point. We will decide as a species what is adopted, and what we will not tolerate as individuals and societies. My guess is that it will further divide the rich from poor and the fortunate from the unfortunate. We are already seeing unprecedented disparity across the globe and this won't change for the foreseeable future. We could argue about revolutions or social change, but there are simply too many variables to guess at what a more globally connected world culture will look like once the 4th stage of industrial revolution is fully realized. We have already seen such rapid increases in communication and compression of timelines in all areas of life thats its impossible to keep up with all of the information that's published. Human beings have reached the end of their capacity to follow and accurately consume the massive amounts of data swirling around them. This can only have three outcomes. We will either "evolve" systems to handle the data for us (which has already happened with products like Facebook), we will reject this rapidly developing way of life for something less complex (some people have done this already), or we will become isolated from the growing technology and ignore it as individuals and as a society resulting in stagnation. It is very obvious that our education systems and cultures have not been able to keep pace with the human element in all of this. This will need to be a major focus of our cultures to address this.

If there is not a major societal issues with the continued complexity of industrialization, I would expect the trends to continue on to the following stages of 5.0 and 6.0 to the industrial revolution. This prediction is also based on the premise that we will be able to successfully replace our carbon energy addiction to a hydrogen and sustainable energy economy within the next 300 years or we will most likely go extinct. (That's a whole different article! Maybe I'll tackle that one later on.)

What About the Backstory?

Before moving on the stages 5.0 and 6.0 of the industrialization process, I would like to fill in a bit of backstory that seems to have been often neglected, that I call Industrialization 0.1 and 0.5.

Definition:

Industry 0.1

Based on this definition, we can see that industry can take on many simple forms as well as the complex ones. It is well known that we made beautiful and skillful stone tools as well as tanned skins and complex jewelry well into the early stone age. It has been well documented that all these things were used as a forms of currency and the items themselves were bartered with for other goods. It is also well known that there were certain locations where flint and obsidian were mined by hand. Animal parts and beads were prized items as well.

Tribal cultures would quickly realize that they had members who were more skilled at particular arts and would most likely have them specialize in making tools, shelters and clothing for the clan. Also, one can easily view the traditional sex roles as a form of division of labor. Therefore, I would propose that industrialization started back before we evolved as Homo sapiens and well before we started to colonize the continents.

When religion, engineering, medicine, fishing, hunting, agriculture and leadership roles became more and more specialized, we see education and training become more important and extend further into our lifetimes so that the "family business" can thrive and out compete others. Long before Industrialization Stage 1.0 we see its foundation in specialization, division of labor, line-production and economic growth in goods and services as far back as several thousand BCE in Babylon, ancient Egypt and India.

Industrialization Step 0.5

The next small leap we took as thinkers. We realized that a human being's strength and speed was paltry compared to the animals around us. It was an important step in our survival to domesticate several species who could augment our abilities. Wolves became assistants for hunting and early warning systems as their sense of smell and hearing was much more acute than our own. Cattle became agricultural aids and horses helped us to settle new lands and protect ourselves over distances that we humans could not travel nearly as quickly. Their strength, speed and senses were early "tools" that augmented our ability to survive and perform work. From here is was a small abstraction in thinking to realize that animal power can be replaced with natural power, like wind and water (Step 1.0), to further augment our ability to specialize and provide goods and services to our communities. We just need the technology to engineer what we need.

Now, back to our expansion in Industrialization 4.0.

Industrialization Steps 5.0 and 6.0

It is possible to take the current trends and extrapolate where we will be going. There are already glimmers on what is on the horizon in human/machine interfaces as well as AI and genetics. From these areas and more, we should be able to stitch the next steps of industrialization together. I stop at stage 6.0 as I cannot foresee needing to go beyond this stage unless we, as a species, develop new capacities and needs that I simply don't anticipate.

5th - So the next revolution will come once we have cracked the code of wiring into the brain directly. It will take on the literal projects of - if you can think it, you can do it. Artificial Intelligence and 3D printing will take the brunt of the intelligence of this next stage and its very likely that cybernetic implants will be utilized to facilitate the brain/machine interface. Its likely that the cybernetic implants will either be "installed" at birth, or genetically manipulated. Minimal hardware, like google glass, might also become a solution in the beginning of this phase in order to bridge the gap between what we can do creatively and what is possible to do. I would expect that this stage will value creativity, innovation and insight over process and more logically based thinkers. Research into the "new" and unknown scientific principles should be able to offer life long employment. If your job can be reduced as a "point A to point B" operation, your skills will be replaced by robots and computers to handle the logic behind the process. This will disrupt many professional segments that we don't necessarily think will be replaced by purely logical processes. Look for the medical, transportation, agricultural, insurance, legal and financial professionals to be replaced over the next 70 years by software/robotic combinations. It is very unclear how these changes will affect the world employment population and what jobs will fill in for these lost ones. You will be a programmer, or you will be programmed out.

It might be important to pause here and discuss a few major challenges that we will face. The first is resources.

Consumption

We consume in the developed world, far more in terms of raw materials and natural resources, than the undeveloped world. This concept of developed is a sliding scale and is filled with bias and entitlement for most Western countries. It is important to consider that overpopulation will become a larger and larger problem if we continue to thrive on Earth. While the philosophy of capitalism has been a powerful one for much of the last 200 years, it is simply not sustainable economically or socially. You cannot have 99 percent of the population getting 1% of the resources and 1% getting the rest. Its simply not good long term thinking. No organism survives this way!

Environment & Bio-Diversity

Recent studies done on our lakes and streams have show that there are over 160 bio-reactive chemicals piling up in our waterways. We currently have no idea how this soup of pollutants will affect fish and other aquatic animals. Next to no studies have been conducted by the FDA on chemical interactions of this complexity. We continue to create new drugs and compounds to control our farm crop yields and control our food source health while we do little to keep these chemicals from being released everywhere. Even our own drinking water supplies are being increasingly contaminated by the amount of drugs that we consume. There is little idea where this will go, but pesticides and anti-biotics are among the top 20 chemicals found in the largest amounts and numbers. If we use history as a guide, it will just create increasing numbers of resistant micro-organisms and pests.

We have also been causing the next great extinction event by wiping out bio-diversity and habitats for our ecosystems all over the world. Many animal populations are stressed to the limits and so many species are near extinction and endangered that its very doubtful that we will be the stewards of their survival. In many ways, this can be seen as the survival of the fittest with less adaptable species being wiped out because we need the land and resources, but there are always unintended consequences to the removal of any species from an ecosystem. It will depend on us to decide what kind of world we want to live in. Will we sacrifice others for the sake of ourselves or live together with the other species that make up our environment? We will have to decide.

Disease

We are currently in an arms race with unseen forces. Unseen because they are so small we cannot easily see them and their numbers far exceed our own. We have seen unprecedented grown of disease in the forms of nutritional deficiencies, anti-bacterial resistant sicknesses and new deadly viruses that have out survived multiple generations of humanity, and will be here long after we have gone. We are currently just holding it together, but I will predict that there will be future plagues upon mankind that will kill off future millions if not billions. While we have taken many positive steps at the global level to contain these diseases, our safety is largely an illusion at this point that has been barely managed. Alarmingly, its looking more and more that disease played a major role in the last extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs before that meteor swooped in for the literal coup de gras.

Technology

We are on the brink of creating huge advances and cost reductions in medicine, Virtual Reality (VR), nanotechnology, building materials and 3-D printing. At present is it very likely that these areas will be combined in novel ways to create even more amazing achievements. But with any new technology, it will have both positive and negative impacts. Of all these, nanotech is the most scary. There are many scientist working for the good of mankind, but a few wrong moves or the weaponization of nanotech could easily lead to our destruction. I feel that nanotech is too dangerous at this point to be released into the environment as we have already seen nano-chemistry being incompatible with our current world. I have researched many visions into using nanotech to extend our lives and keep us healthy, but I have issue with its implementation and how nano-robotics can distinguish between unhealthy human cells and other species' biology. If fail safes or better security are not built into nanotechnology it will have unforeseen consequences.

WAR and Global Ethics

Too often we let our emotions and greed get in our way. We are territorial animals. It drove us, along with our curiosity, to explore and colonize the entire globe long before our history could record it. Territorialism, nationalism and politics of our present are more of a threat than a blessing. We hold the means to easily destroy ourselves, but we have managed to be prudent before we release the nuclear dogs. I am hopeful that we will be able to remove the nuclear threat completely, but we will face new, and potentially just as deadly threats through genetics, natural disasters, economic collapse and overpopulation. Any one of these can, and has, tipped the balance of the technologically advanced cultures of the day into collapse.

Societal decisions will have to be vetted with biology, genetic knowledge, security (physical and cyber), resource management, safety, privacy and the value of life. We will have much to debate over and it is likely to cause conflict. Governments at the local level will not be able to resolve these global issues and we will have to come together to create a human philosophy to resolve them. We have the moral and religious systems in place to do this, but it has not worked so far. We often do things to each other that we know are wrong under the rationality of the day. Our history is its own example.

If we are going to live in a world with 15 to 30 billion people on it, drastic and sustainable changes will have to take place in how resources are managed, goods and services are purchased and how the very important matter of human worth is considered. We face a crises of hope today that has led to Terrorism, vast greed and indifference. How we solve these issues will determine what our world will look like over the next three centuries. Either way, our ability to innovate will have to play a major role in our survival. If you have a philosophy of abundance, then you may feel that we will have little issue solving these problems, but I am not as optimistic as you. I have seen us put too many problems off until they become a crisis. This will not work for the carbonization of our atmosphere, and it won't work for controlling disease.

So let us swing back to taking a more optimistic tone! We survived! We thrived and we are now at the 6th Stage!

6th - With the ability to create from digital blueprints easily under our toolset at a global level, we can foresee where and how society might function.

A globally connected AI would facilitate the resources of a human population exceeding 15 billion people. Much of the political corruption and poor resource management that plagues us today would have to be relegated to the past in order to effectively manage the natural resources of wood, water, steel, food, education, robotics and energy for an interconnected globe. Most industrial tools, and mechanical fabrications will be handled by 3D printing, nanotechnology and CAM processes that rely little on human workers. Basically, machines will design machines and the materials and engineering will become too complex for most people to follow from generation to generation. It is likely that robots (autonomous AI's) will be more intelligent than people. Most of the population would use rented vehicles or mass transit to move around, if movement would be required at all. It can be estimated that quantum computing and resource management could even produce copies of "things" much like the fabled Star Trek Replicator towards the distant 6.0 stage. No reason why it would be limited to only food as often seen on the benchmark TV series. Each person would have access to all the accumulated knowledge of the world in a easily consumable human interface and the resources to create and build upon that knowledge in meaningful ways. Research, exploration and creativity would need to be the highest human endeavors.

PutTING it all together

I came up with this infographic based on the above Stages to make it all much more digestible. Download it and keep it if you find this article valuable. The Industrialization Stages of 0.1 through 6.0 are summarized and renumbered from 1 to 8.

How will we find our way?

In summary, we have many obstacles to overcome and many difficulties will face us, mostly on the ethical and environmental fronts. Will we have the willpower to make the right decisions? The current educational, political and societal climate, seem to indicate a negative outcome. It will come down to intelligence and leadership. It will take a hefty amount of both on the part of the population to find its way through climate change, the ethical implementation of technology, and find the value of the individual in society as a whole. There is no doubt in my mind that all these problems are solvable and will lead to a better human condition that is based on long term thinking over the prevailing short term thinking of today. Will we be able to overcome our own shortcomings to get to the future we need to survive?

In the end, its up to all of us to fight for what is right for our children and to listen to each other to find our way. If we don't, there very well may be no one to judge us for our apathy and ignorance.

Finally I leave you with this from Futurism.com:

Written by Jolene Creighton

The Kardashev Scale – Type I, II, III, IV & V Civilization

We have reached a turning point in society. According to renowned theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, the next 100 years of science will determine whether we perish or thrive. Will we remain a Type 0 civilization, or will we advance and make our way into the stars?

Experts assert that, as a civilization grows larger and becomes more advanced, its energy demands will increase rapidly due to its population growth and the energy requirements of its various machines. With this in mind, the Kardashev scale was developed as a way of measuring a civilization’s technological advancement based upon how much usable energy it has at its disposal (this was originally just tied to energy available for communications, but has since been expanded).

Meet the Kardashev Scale

The scale was originally designed in 1964 by the Russian astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev (who was looking for signs of extraterrestrial life within cosmic signals). It has 3 base classes, each with an energy disposal level: Type I (10¹⁶W), Type II (10²⁶W), and Type III (10³⁶W).

Other astronomers have extended the scale to Type IV (10⁴⁶W) and Type V (the energy available to this kind of civilization would equal that of all energy available in not just our universe, but in all universes and in all time-lines). These additions consider both energy access as well as the amount of knowledge the civilizations have access to.

First, it is important to note that the human race is not even on this scale yet. Since we still sustain our energy needs from dead plants and animals, here on Earth, we are a lowly Type 0 civilization (and we have a LONG way to go before being promoted to a type I civilization). Kaku tends to believe that, all things taken into consideration, we will reach Type I in 100 – 200 years time. But what does each of these categories actually stand for in literal terms?

A Type I designation is a given to species who have been able to harness all the energy that is available from a neighboring star, gathering and storing it to meet the energy demands of a growing population. This means that we would need to boost our current energy production over 100,000 times to reach this status. However, being able to harness all Earth’s energy would also mean that we could have control over all natural forces. Human beings could control volcanoes, the weather, and even earthquakes! (At least, that is the idea.) These kinds of feats are hard to believe, but compared to the advances that may still be to come, these are just basic and primitive levels of control (it’s absolutely nothing compared to the capabilities of societies with higher rankings).

The next step up – a Type II civilization – can harness the power of their entire star (not merely transforming starlight into energy, but controlling the star). Several methods for this have been proposed. The most popular of which is the hypothetical ‘Dyson Sphere.’ This device, if you want to call it that, would encompass every single inch of the star, gathering most (if not all) of its energy output and transferring it to a planet for later use. Alternatively, if fusion power (the mechanism that powers stars) had been mastered by the race, a reactor on a truly immense scale could be used to satisfy their needs. Nearby gas giants can be utilized for their hydrogen, slowly drained of life by an orbiting reactor.

What would this much energy mean for a species? Well, nothing known to science could wipe out a Type II civilization. Take, for instance, if humans survived long enough to reach this status, and a moon sized object entered our solar system on a collision course with our little blue planet–we’d have the ability to vaporize it out of existence. Or if we had time, we could move our planet out of the way, completely dodging it. But let’s say we didn’t want to move Earth… are there any other options? Well yes, because we’d have the capability to move Jupiter, or another planet of our choice, into the way – pretty cool, right?

So we’ve gone from having control over a planet, to a star, which has resulted in us harboring enough “disposable” energy to essentially make our civilization immune to extinction. But now, onto Type III, where a species then becomes galactic traversers with knowledge of everything having to do with energy, resulting in them becoming a master race. In terms of humans, hundreds of thousands of years of evolution – both biological and mechanical – may result in the inhabitants of this type III civilization being incredibly different from the human race as we know it. These may be cyborgs (or cybernetic organism, beings both biological and robotic), with the descendants of regular humans being a sub-species among the now-highly advanced society. These wholly biological humans would likely be seen as being disabled, inferior, or unevolved by their cybernetic counterparts.

At this stage, we would have developed colonies of robots that are capable of ‘self replication’; their population may increase into the millions as they spread out across the galaxy, colonizing star after star. And these being might build Dyson Spheres to encapsulate each one, creating a huge network that would carry energy back to the home planet. But stretching over the galaxy in such a manner would face several problems; namely, the species would be constrained by the laws of physics. Particularly, light-speed travel. That is, unless they develop a working warp drive, or use that immaculate energy cache to master wormhole teleportation (two things that remain theoretical for the time being), they can only get so far.

Kardashev believed a Type IV civilization was ‘too’ advanced and didn’t go beyond Type III on his scale. He thought that, surely, this would be the extent of any species’ ability. Many think so, but a few believe there is a further level that could be achieved. (I mean, surely there is a limit?) Type IV civilizations would almost be able to harness the energy content of the entire universe and with that, they could traverse the accelerating expansion of space (furthermore, advance races of these species may live inside supermassive black holes). To previous methods of generating energy, these kinds of feats are considered impossible. A Type IV civilization would need to tap into energy sources unknown to us using strange, or currently unknown, laws of physics.

Type V. Yes, Type V might just be the next possible advancement to such a civilization. Here beings would be like gods, having the knowledge to manipulate the universe as they please. Now, as I said, humans are a very, very long way from ever reaching anything like this. But it’s not to say that it cannot be achieved as long as we take care of Earth and each other. To do so, the first step is to preserve our tiny home, extinguish war, and continue to support scientific advances and discoveries.

©2017 by Brad Zylman