Klaus Schwag’s ‘The Fourth (Wall) Industrial Revolution’

Kickstarting off the last semester for the year (finally!), the Media 6 class is introduced to Klaus Schawg’s reading of the ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

All new developments and technologies have one key feature in common; they leverage the pervasive power of digitization and information technology.

Klaus begins his reading with this sentence, which talks about the way advanced digital power has created opportunities for different areas of digital innovation to reach new heights.

Gene sequencing, for example, could not happen without progress in computing power and data analytics. Similarly, advanced robots would not exist without artificial intelligence, which itself, largely depends on computing power.”

Klaus speaks about the effect of the advancement of technological drivers, and how they have helped skyrocket different technologies that relies heavily on digital power. He broke them down into three categories; physical, digital, and biological.


Klaus states that there are four main components of physical manifestations of technological megatrends:

-Autonomous vehicles

Vehicles such as driverless cars, trucks, drones and aircrafts, are dominating the tech industry as these autonomous machines improve at a rapid pace. As drones become more aware of their surroundings; they are capable of doing tasks such as checking for power lines or delivering medical supplies in wars.

-3D printing

3D printing consists of creating a physical object by printing layer upon layer from a digital 3D model. 3D printing starts with loose material and then builds an object into a three-dimensional shape using a digital template. This type of technology is used to build windmills or medical implants. As this technology improves, researchers will then be able to tap into working on 4D; a process that would create a new generation of self-altering products capable of responding to environmental change such as heat or humidity.

Advanced Robotics

Before, robots are confined to tightly controlled tasks in specific industries such as automotive. Now, robots are increasingly used across all sectors and for a wide range of tasks across multiple areas from precision agriculture to nursing. Rapid progress in robotics will make collaboration between humans and machine an everyday reality.

-New Materials

Like many innovations of the fourth industrial revolution, it is hard to know where developments of new materials will lead. Take advanced nanomaterials such as graphene, which is about 200-times stronger than steel, a million times thinner than the human hair, and an efficient conductor of heat and electricity. When graphene becomes price competitive, it could significantly disrupt the manufacturing and infrastructure industries.



One of the main bridges between physical and digital applications enabled by the fourth industrial revolution is the internet of things. In its simplest form, it can be described as a relationship between things, and people that is made possible by connected technologies and various platforms.

The digital revolution is creating radically new approaches that revolutionize the way in which individuals and institutions engage and collaborate. On a broader scale, technology-based platforms make possible what is now called the on-demand economy. These platforms, which are easy to use on a smart phone, convene people, assets and data, creating entirely new ways of consuming goods and services. They lower barriers for businesses and individuals to create wealth, altering personalities and professional environments.

Digital platforms have dramatically reduced the transaction and friction costs incurred when individuals or organizations share the use of an asset or provide a service. Each transaction can now be divided into very fine increments, with economic gains for all parties involved.



Innovations in the biological realm – and genetics in particular – are nothing less than breath-taking. In recent years considerable progress has been achieved in reducing the cost and increasing the ease of genetic sequencing, and lately, in activating or editing of genes.

With advances in computing power, scientists no longer go by trial and error; rather, they test the way in which specific genetic variations generate particular traits and diseases.

While our understanding of the links between genetic makers and disease is still poor, increasing the amounts of data will make precision medicine possible, enabling the development of highly targeted therapies to improve treatment outcomes. Already, IBM’s Watson supercomputer system can help recommend, in just a few minutes, personalized treatments for cancer patients by comparing the histories of disease and treatment, scans and genetic data against complete universe of up-to-date medical knowledge.


In the peak of technological era, technological advancement has an effect on multiple sectors of industries – military, advanced digital computer, medial field, arts, engineering, agriculture, etc. In every single industry, there is the need to rely on technological advancement, as the industrial revolution moves from coal trains, to supercomputers in a matter of less than a century. As technology take big strides in developing and improving, so too does the industry’s reliance and dependent on it increase.


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