As humans, we’ve come a long way.
We went from being hunters/gatherers into becoming settlers, expanding communities into villages and thereafter cities. We innovated, evolved. For the past few centuries, the developments have made significant, technically driven leaps, better described as revolutions rather than gradual growth. In the late 18th century the industrial revolution (Industry 1.0) took place, in which steam power and mechanization were leading. The late 19th-century industry was enhanced with the invention of electricity which allowed for mass production by using more efficient assembly line operations (Industry 2.0). The end of the 20th century was characterized by automation through the emergence of computers (Industry 3.0), which is still partially ongoing.
Our working environment and the participation of humans have changed drastically over time. We moved from very unsafe and unhealthy working conditions where a lot of accidents took place (I1) towards a more controlled and sophisticated environment. The downside to this was that work became quite dull (I2), which allows for more mistakes to be made. To decrease the influence of human error, a lot of operations were automized (I3).
Industry 4.0, an era that is marked by connectivity
We are currently bridging an interim period that places us at the base of the next revolution, defined as Industry 4.0. This upcoming era is marked by connectivity; cyber-physical systems (CPS) that operate on a network base, the Internet of Things (IoT). For our production, we will rely on Smart Factories, and our communities will become Smart Cities. The idea of a ‘Smart’ entity is that it uses data and algorithms to apply clever policies and procedures that could be executed, evaluated and improved in an autonomous flow. Thus, smart entities should have the ability to learn and make decisions.