New ways of using technology to change behaviour and our systems of production and consumption offer the potential for supporting the regeneration and preservation of natural environments, rather than creating hidden costs in the form of externalities. The changes are historic in terms of their size, speed and scope.
While the profound uncertainty surrounding the development and adoption of emerging technologies means that we do not yet know how the transformations driven by this industrial revolution will unfold, their complexity and interconnectedness across sectors imply that all stakeholders of global society — governments, business, academia and civil society — have a responsibility to work together.
Shared understanding is particularly critical if we are to shape a collective future that reflects common objectives and values. We must have a comprehensive and globally shared view of how technology is changing our lives and those of future generations, and how it is reshaping the economic, social, cultural and human context in which we live.
The changes are so profound that, from the perspective of human history, there has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril. My concern, however, is that decision-makers are too often caught in traditional, linear thinking or too absorbed by immediate concerns to think strategically about the forces of disruption and innovation.
From “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”