The Fourth Industrial Revolution – Klaus Schwab

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From driverless cars to cloud connected robots, 3D printed organs to environmentally adaptive clothing, the fourth industrial revolution is expected to present a world of limitless possibilities. Klaus Schwab categorises the most prominent mega-trends of the fourth revolution into 3 main ‘clusters’; biological, digital and physical. Although identified as three individual groups, the realities and consequences derived from each are by no means separate. Each deeply dependent on digital power, every new innovation that takes place will arise from the complex interrelation between the three main ‘clusters’. Yet whilst we face an array of substantial changes that promise to change the world as we know it, not all changes are expected to impact humanity for the better.

With information technology changing faster than ever before, perhaps science is progressing faster than we can address the ethical, social and economical challenges it poses. Are we capable of understanding the world that our ‘on demand’ economy is screaming for? As we increasingly move in a completely digitalised environment, the risk of segregation and global inequality is an issue that will only become more prominent as digital participate becomes a crucial part of ones health and wellbeing both socially and physically.

Klaus Schwab provides a detailed insight into the current movements of the global economy and exacerbating tensions between new technology and ethical compliance.

Whilst not a particularly heavy read in language or expression of critical ideas, ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution’ provides a captivating blend of fascinating projections and morally perplexing issues. Despite feeling as if left at near drowning point as I try to resurface from the perplexing nature of this article, I neither feel alarmed nor nonchalant but rather, explicitly informed.

Databases vs Design

During this week’s symposium, discussion ‘too-and-froed’ between databases and design, and it really wasn’t until about half way through until i realised just how interrelated they actually are. Network media now is simply just a mass of mega databases, and really everything we do with technology is dependent on it. For example; pretty much the only phones you see people with now are the iPhone or the Samsung. Whether this heated and business-vicious affair turns out to be just another fad or not, the point is that as a result of this, such a large proportion of society has now linked themselves in with the databases of iCloud or Dropbox. Why so? Is this really because of the technology that is being offered? Or is because of the way in which these fancy new phones are being marketed through the graphical design capabilities that are now available? When you think about the subject of ‘design’ now, it is now about creating something that is better than what is available now, but about creating something that is bigger,better and more advanced then the what people can already predict. Social technology is now changing and advancing faster than it ever has before and because of this databases are now becoming more and more crucial to maintaining security of anything you put online. Or are they? Perhaps the term personal databases would be more appropriate, given the recent celebrity nude hacks…

Taking a totally different perspective on databases is Kenton who questions the broad definition of a databases, proposing that perhaps a database could also be zoo or a supermarket.

Then Kiralee jots our her ideas in dot point form, simple and easy and an efficient way to tackle something that as we can see, can be approached in may different, albeit correct, viewpoints.

Chicken or the Egg…

Talking about the ways in which new media are studied and experienced as historical subjects, this week’s reading suggested something that I found very intriguing. Lets momentarily remove ourselves from our daily technological whirlwind. Everyday we’re so caught up in texting, emailing, tweeting, blogging, liking, hastaging..the list can go on and on. Yet, how often, if not ever, have you thought about how all of this came about. Just like the ancient old question, was it the chicken or the egg  that came first, which came first in the development of ‘new media’? Was it the development of technological methods and devices in which resulted in advance, interlinked communication? Or was it the development modern ideas of communication that sparked the development of technological devices that allowed for such communication desires? Perplexing isn’t it! As easy as it would be to pick one, both options are equally viable. Does the newest version of Facebook come out because we need better ways of communicating or because the website technology was developed first?

Searching through the many interesting posts of other students to see what they have to say about this weeks content, I find that Monique has tied her reading in with the discussions from this weeks symposium. Monique reflects on the secondary reading from this week by Manovich. Funnily enough though, I also found that there are linking ideas from Kenton who also see there to be no beginning or end to databases. Similarly, Monique finds from Manovich that ‘the database in itself is always growing, and, like hypertext, becomes increasingly more connected and is never complete. There is no beginning in certain databases, nor is there a final link.’



Getting Technical with Technology

In both our symposium and class this week we began to discuss the nuts and bolts that make up the networked system that we currently experience online. Referring to the internet as a somewhat ‘ecology’, Adrian compared network literacy to that of a natural ecosystem, both of which function as a united structure despite the many individual and quite separate parts that are present. Furthering his analogy, Adrian continued to compare the two on their similar characteristics, as although both a naturally existing ecosystem and the artificial form of the internet both lack a controlling centre, it is through this lack of a centre that enables both representations of an ‘ecology’ to intercommunicate in complex ways, irrespective of size or scale.

It is this concept that I believe most accurately represents the functioning of network literacy as although not every piece of data is connected to each other, no one piece of data stands alone. With this subject now bringing to draw to an end with the end of semester creeping closer and closer, I feel I hold a much great comprehension of how network literacy works now that we have gone further than the theoretical and the practical perspectives and into the structural. Through  both discussions and the practical work induing weekly posts through this blog, I understand now Adrian has always stressed the difference between computer literacy and network literacy.

Class discussions this week then fastened my grasp on network literacy even further as we talked about the ‘nodes’ that refer to the connection points between different websites. It is then the number of incoming links to a certain node that determines how high up in a search a website will be. Although there are no nodes that are more or less important in the actual networked system of the internet, some sites such as Wikipedia or Youtube are seen as more prominent than other websites due to their large amount of incoming links from various locations across the web  as apposed to a small time blog on cupcakes that may only receive links about baking.

Neutrality and Speeds of Technology

Whether I’m beginning to reach saturation point in regards to absorption of theories and ideas on network media, or perhaps this week’s symposium was just a bit less comprehensive than others but this week I found myself, and I hope I’m not alone, struggling to take in all that was discussed my Adrian, Elliot and Jason. Maybe I’ll just put it down to the abstract yet vague nature that governs the concept of ‘neutrality’ of which was discussed for majority of the symposium. What is ‘neutrality’? According to the discussions that have unraveled both in the symposium and in class this week it is the term that describes the notion of an something being uninvolved and unmotivated by other surrounding objects, circumstances, cultures or people. Naturally stemming from this, the question was raised, ‘How can anything live abstractly by itself?’ Of course, from what we know at this moment, nothing can. Perhaps it could have 200 years ago when everything we know now was still undiscovered, invisible to the world and various cultures but right now, everything must exist in relation to something else. This concept is certainly something that takes a few goes to wrap your heads around, but as abstract as it may seem, it does make a lot of sense. How can a pen exist as a stand alone, individual object? It exists because people need to communicate and because it needs a smooth surface, ink, and a literate person to operate it.

Nearing the end of the class in a quick wrap up Adrian threw a final thought provoking concept at the group regarding the idea of speeds of technology. Referring to Jason’s laptop, Adrian pointed out that although he was holding a piece of state of the art technology, he was also holding something that included technology that dated back 150 years. I laughed at this, realising how right he was and how silly I felt that despite spending so much of my time on my laptop, not once had this thought crossed my mind. Even though Jason’s laptop was the newest edition mac book air, most likely equipped with retina display and the highest speed processor, it still possessed a keyboard that mimics almost exactly that of the keyboards from typewriters. Additionally, it also contained a camera built into the screen, despite the fact that cameras have been around for over 100 years. Looking at technology like this really does reflect the old saying ‘some things never go out of fashion’, and that even though the speed of technological development is faster than its ever been before, we are still very much dependent on the technology that has been around longer than any living person.

Losing Sight…

There’s nothing more annoying then dropping your shopping, or even worse your coffee, because you’ve been blinded bumped into by someone too immersed in their mobile phone. A small town in China however have decided to tak a stand on this annoying consequence of modern day life! I really hope this is merely an act of boredom and comedy from the local council in Chongqing city and won’t be something that becomes a necessity on our own sidewalks!

To checkout the article click here



The Modern Evolution of Language

This weeks symposium wasn’t as structured as the previous ones this semester but hey, it’s the week after mid semester break and we all know and understand just how easily one week can throw you off! Admittedly, as a result of this I found that this symposium was one that I struggled to connect with. However I did find the content Adrian discussed regarding language particularly intriguing due to the way in which he approached this subject, a way in which I have not come across before whereby rather than simply blurting out the ordinary, ‘a word is a word because it has a valid and deliberate descriptive meaning’, but rather taking the approach that a word scan only mean something by what it is not. In other words, a word holds its individual meaning by virtue of the relations of the words that could have been used but have not. It is then because of the this that words create a panoply, otherwise known as language.
Yet what intrigues me about the subject of language even further is it’s amorphous nature, the way in which it can so easily be changed through culture, memories and experiences, and most relevantly, technology. Without the rise of texting and the original constrictive limitation of words per text, would abbreviations such as ‘lol and ‘soz’ have been created that are now so widely known and accepted? Yes, these examples are abbreviations but that does’t defer from the fact that these are still a form of language that is more commonly being used off the medium of the technology and in verbal conversation.

What defines technology?

A quick but necessary post during today’s symposium. The tutors hold different opinions on what is ‘technology’? In the midst of this discussion whilst searching a news website I quite coincidentally came across an article on nail polish posted under the catgeory ‘Technology’. I found this both amassing and confusing.



Writing and Reading with New Technology

Again following on with the concepts revolving around hypertext, this weeks reading focuses on possibilities available for narratives and the potential role of the reader.  Despite the length and breadth of the reading however, it was one of the opening quotes that sparked my interest the most.

What if you had a book that changed every time you read it? —Michael Joyce (1991)

Straight away this reigited my childhood memories of the classic novel series, ‘Give Yourself Goosebumps’ by R.L Stine that through a choice of options at the end of various chapters, enabled you to jump between pages and chose the narrative  outcome. As a child, I, as I’m sure many others, absolutely loved these books. This structuring of the text allowed the reader to feel as though they were becoming involved in the narrative and enabled the reader to read the book multiple times and through trial of each options, progress through a different story on each occasion. However in the format of a written book, bound by a front and back cover, there was a limit to these variations. Discussed and questioned throughout the reading is the potential of hypertext to produce novels that are continuously changing, that through visual interaction enable the reader to constantly produce different outcomes. Yet isn’t this simply the production of completely different narratives? How is this any different to picking up three different novels from a library about teenage love or zombies?

The reading then continues on to discuss the kaleidoscope book. A book that really could interact with your choices, moods and fantasies, that allowed you to decided when the book ended and how. Is this what hypertext could lead to? Do we want to control the narratives that we read for enjoyment and relaxation?

Technology has provided the human race with so many improvements and opportunities but how far do we take this technology in erasing all the history and fundamentals it has arisen out of?




Film Review: Spike Jones – ‘Her’

Original. Unexpected. Creepy. Modern. Radical. Intense.

These are only some of the words I thought after watching Spike Jones’s film ‘Her’. Based around lonely and socially withdrawn divorcee Theodore, the film follows the life of the love letter writer as he struggles to understand ‘love’ in a world that has lost it’s grip on technology. After Theodore purchases the latest talking operating system fully equipped with artificial intelligence designed to adapt and evolve, he finds himself falling further and further in love with his virtual system. Always available, supporting, caring and fun, Theodore loses complete sight of ‘Samantha’ as a production of extensive technological development and instead sees her as his lover. Blinded by his aching loneliness after his split from childhood sweat heart, Theodore becomes disorientated with normality and removes himself from reality in order to feel and be loved.

With both a beautiful music score that perfectly embodies the themes of love, companionship and the need to find humour somewhere in between and a captivating colour palette of tonal reds pinks and oranges, this film is brilliantly original in what you see, feel and hear.

Yet as unusual and unlikely as the story of ‘Her’ may be, there is no denying the plausibly of some of the concepts Spike Jones imbeds throughout the duration the film. The story of Theodore, lost in love and the extensiveness of the technology that surrounds him, certainly made me question what is store for us? Do we find comedy in this film because of the genuine humour or are we simply trying to laugh off the subtle hints of a possible future? Through a unique blend of comedy and romance, Spike Jones presents a very thought provoking film in a quirky yet heat warming way. 


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