Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)

Tesla auto botsBy Steve Jurvetson (Flickr: Tesla Autobots) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Fourth Industrial Revolution

As Chairman of the new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), Alan has been working hard to support and promote the 4IR in Parliament, and to encourage the Government, Parliamentarians, academia, the private sector, and other stakeholders, to engage with 4IR-related issues.

This work is essential to Britain’s economic success in the post-Brexit world, and to creating the businesses and jobs of the future, that will ultimately bring prosperity to the people of Havant and the United Kingdom as a whole.

EEF 4IR GraphicEEF 4IR Graphic 2
4IR graphics from EEF The manufacturers' organisation. See more about EEF's work on the 4IR here: EEF Website

More information about Alan's ongoing work in this area can be found through the drop-down menu on the left of this page. 

The following is an excerpt from Alan’s forthcoming report on the 4IR:

Introduction: Winning the Global Race

Britain is in a global race for economic success and must actively seize the opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) to drive future economic growth, pro-actively shaping and harnessing the technological and societal changes it heralds for the nation’s benefit.

Since the turn of the century there has been an unprecedented fusion of technologies that blur the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres, and an exponential increase in automation and connectivity, all offering significant growth and productivity advantages to economies that seize the corresponding opportunities. Research from NGOs like the World Economic Forum (WEF), investment banks including Merrill Lynch and UBS, professional services firms such as Deloitte and BDO, and manufacturing organisations like EEF, supports the view that the 4IR’s impact on the global economy – and therefore Britain’s – will be dramatic. Mastering the 4IR was the theme for the 2016 WEF Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, underlining the topic’s strategic, global importance.

The 4IR is characterised by recent and anticipated breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence (AI); automated robotics and advanced manufacturing; pervasive digital networking (the “Internet of Things”); autonomous vehicles (such as “driverless cars”); 3D printing and additive manufacturing; “Big Data” analytics; nanotechnology; biotechnology; materials science; energy storage; and quantum computing. These advances will disrupt almost every industry in every country, and pose profound economic, political, and societal challenges to countries that are unprepared or unresponsive to a rapidly changing world.

Some of these technologies were recognised by the 2010-2015 Coalition Government’s industrial policies, which highlighted “Eight Great Technologies” where the UK could lead the world, and included significant investment to support their development. These were: big data and energy-efficient computing; satellites and commercial applications of space; robotics and autonomous systems; synthetic biology; regenerative medicine; agri-science; advanced materials and nanotechnology; and energy storage.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, further recognised the importance of these disruptive technologies during his 2016 Conservative Party Conference speech, placing the 4IR at the heart of Government policy and acknowledging that “there is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Britain to cement its role as a leader in tech innovation […] the fruit of British genius being harvested here in Britain as we move into a Fourth Industrial Revolution, creating jobs, wealth and success. Future-proofing the economy of post-Brexit Britain.” This followed the first ever House of Commons debate on the 4IR which took place in September 2016, attracting a high level of cross-party interest.

With this technological fusion permeating and disrupting all sectors of the economy, and attention turning to the 4IR in Parliament and now in Government, we should take this opportunity to make sure that the 4IR in Britain is comprised not simply of changes that happen to us, but changes that work for us.

The free-market case for the 4IR, advanced in this Free Enterprise Group report backed by the Institute of Economic Affairs, sees Britain embracing the 4IR – not resisting it – by exploiting new technologies for the nation’s benefit. This will result in substantial supply-side benefits, including increased productivity, lower prices for goods and services, and greater consumer choice. Mastering the 4IR must also be at the heart of the Government’s new Industrial Strategy.