Tom Hooper: Buckle up for the fourth industrial revolution - the biggest one yet

Tom Hooper says: "Disruptive tech will not only effect production and processes, but ultimately will change jobs and ...
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Tom Hooper says: "Disruptive tech will not only effect production and processes, but ultimately will change jobs and economic prosperity."

OPINION: The industrial revolution was followed by the rise of computer processing and automation. What is coming next is arguably the biggest change yet.

The fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0 is best described as an exponential pace of technology change (Moore's Law) that will lead to increasingly rapid disruption, fundamentally impacting the way we work and live.

"Disruptive tech" will not only effect production and processes, but ultimately will change jobs and economic prosperity.

Humanoid robot, Pepper, is a customer service robot already in use in more than 2000 Japanese shops.
KOKI NAGAHAMA/GETTY-IMAGES

Humanoid robot, Pepper, is a customer service robot already in use in more than 2000 Japanese shops.

So what exactly is meant by disruptive tech? It's technology invention that changes the way we do things.

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Think mobile phones or portable devices, the internet, increasing use of cloud platforms for software access and storage, advanced robotics, autonomous cars, nanotechnology, or 3D printing.

Sir Ray Avery, scientist and inventor of the LifePod infant incubator, will present his views on New Zealand: the clever ...
JASON OXENHAM/FAIRFAX NZ

Sir Ray Avery, scientist and inventor of the LifePod infant incubator, will present his views on New Zealand: the clever country at the Canterbury Tech Summit in September.

Sound familiar? That's because in many cases they already exist and the impacts are only just becoming apparent.

In contrast to previous revolutions which were characterised by single advances in mechanisation, we are now facing multiple new technology roll outs in quick succession that combined will impact on all aspects of our professional and personal lives.

For example, virtual reality software being developed in Christchurch will be able to train you to use tools and machines in a near real simulation.

It's incredible experiencing the technology especially when you realise that you can buy a domestic system for just over $1000. Then think about how this might change traditional education systems.

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Here in Christchurch we have an opportunity to come together with global experts and thought leaders to talk about the rapid technological change our world faces in two major events happening in Christchurch in the coming months.

In September the city hosts the 14th annual Canterbury Tech Summit themed The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Key note speaker, Sir Ray Avery, scientist, author, entrepreneur, philanthropist, start-up investor and inventor of the LifePod infant incubator, will be presenting his views on New Zealand: the clever country.

Following in November our city will host the Singularity University NZ Summit.

This is a condensed version of the famed Singularity University Executive Education programme with lectures, presentations and workshops exploring technological change and how to best prepare our communities to adjust and embrace it, or be left behind.

Global experts will share their knowledge and insight into new and amazing technologies and what we need to do to compete in a world of unprecedented technological change.

It is a given that more jobs will be replaced by learning computers and this will extend into fields that have historically not been vulnerable to technology advances, like accounting and law.

But by contemplating the change and having these discussions we can also understand the opportunities and new skills required to be successful.

It is estimated that within the next 20 years, 50 per cent to 80 per cent of the jobs as we currently know them will be impacted by technological advances.

We are a nation of small businesses – 473,846 accordingly to KPMG - 97 per cent of which have less than 20 employees, 96 per cent are sole traders and 34 per cent are small and medium businesses which have been operating for less than six years.

Small businesses might struggle to make an impact on the global stage but they have the advantage of being highly adaptive, this makes it easier for them to adopt the new changes that are coming compared to global multi nationals.

It is absolutely right that we should sit up and take notice and understand the changing business environment ahead of us.

The pace of change should be considered an opportunity.

It seems appropriate and timely to discuss what lies ahead for New Zealand's newest city and how we use the rebuild as a platform for growth and embracing technological change.

Technology is going to affect us all, professionally and personally, we have to get ready for it.

Tom Hooper is the chief executive of the Canterbury Development Corporation.

 - Stuff

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