Fourth Rev­o­lu­tion

The Korea Times - - OPINION -

The Moon Jae-in ad­min­is­tra­tion launched the Pres­i­den­tial Com­mis­sion on the Fourth In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion, Wed­nes­day, ex­pect­ing it to draw up a blue­print for “in­no­va­tion-led” growth, and find new in­dus­tries that will boost the econ­omy in the fu­ture.

In its in­au­gu­ral cer­e­mony, Pres­i­dent Moon made clear his in­ten­tion to push for the Fourth In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion and called for the com­mis­sion to come up with de­tailed plans and to im­ple­ment them swiftly. He then pledged to in­tro­duce a “reg­u­la­tory sand­box” for new in­dus­tries so that busi­nesses can freely test in­no­va­tive ideas, prod­ucts and ser­vices with­out the fet­ters of gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions.

It was good to see the Pres­i­dent keep his cam­paign prom­ise to build a “peo­ple-cen­tered” econ­omy on three pil­lars — in­come-led growth, fair com­pe­ti­tion and in­no­va­tion-ori­ented ad­vances. In­dus­try lob­bies and some me­dia had crit­i­cized the in­cum­bent ad­min­is­tra­tion’s eco­nomic pol­icy for fo­cus­ing too much on re­dis­tri­bu­tion while ig­nor­ing ex­pand­ing the pie first.

Equally com­mend­able was Moon’s re­solve to elim­i­nate ad­min­is­tra­tive red tape, given that most of his pre­de­ces­sors’ am­bi­tious eco­nomic pro­grams went nowhere amid bu­reau­crats’ ex­ces­sive in­ter­ven­tion. This not­with­stand­ing, many economists re­main un­cer­tain what the Fourth In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion ex­actly means, and whether the world, let alone this coun­try, has en­tered it.

Klaus Sch­wab, founder and ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of World Eco­nomic Fo­rum who first raised the is­sue at the Davos Fo­rum in Jan­uary last year, de­fined it as the dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion that has been oc­cur­ring since the mid­dle of the 20th cen­tury. It is the fu­sion of tech­nolo­gies that is blur­ring the lines be­tween the phys­i­cal, dig­i­tal and bi­o­log­i­cal spheres.

We are less con­cerned about aca­demic ar­gu­ments than about whether and how the na­tion and its in­dus­tries will adapt them­selves to the new trend.

From past ex­pe­ri­ence, we know what will drive it to another fail­ure.

If bu­reau­crats try — again — to take the lead and con­cen­trate re­sources on big busi­nesses, the plan is sure to fail. Of­fi­cials should present min­i­mal guid­ance and let the pri­vate sec­tor, es­pe­cially star­tups and small ven­tures, use their cre­ative imag­i­na­tion to the full.

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