Managing the Fourth Industrial Revolution
Full course description
New technologies associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) hold out great promise in helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by generating rapid, equitable and sustainable economic growth, by aiding the fight against climate change, and by improving health and education outcomes across the world. In equal measure, the development of this broad set of technologies - that includes 3D printing, nanotechnology, the internet of things, artificial intelligence and robotics, biotechnologies, neurotechnologies, virtual reality, energy capture, and blockchain - raises many economic, societal and ethical concerns. Concerns abound as to whether developing countries will be excluded from sharing the benefits of these technologies, for example, by limiting opportunities to develop through Global Value Chains, and to whether new technologies - and robotisation and artificial intelligence in particular - will deprive millions of their jobs, exacerbating inequality both within and across countries. Ethical issues also play a prominent role in the current debate. As machines make more and more decisions, how do we ensure that these decisions are ethical?
These discussions suggest that attempts to maximise the benefits of these new technologies while minimising the social costs will involve a coordinated policy response. This course therefore identifies the opportunities and threats associated with emerging technologies and considers the appropriate policy responses to these new technologies. Week 1 will introduce these new technologies, identify the opportunities and threats from these technologies, and discuss the emerging evidence on their impacts. In Week 2, the course will discuss how innovation policy can be used to encourage the development – and the responsible development – of these new technologies in both the developed and developing world. Week 3 focusses on the impacts of new technologies on the developing world, discussing the role of trade and industrial policy as development tools in the 4IR. Finally, in Week 4 the course concentrates on societal aspects, considering the set of social policies that will provide appropriate protection to individuals and society. A component of this will be to critically examine the recent literature predicting the effects of new technologies on various outcomes. The set of policies considered will relate to the traditional benefits model of linking health care and retirement savings to jobs, to appropriate safety nets that should accompany increased job insecurity, to education and life-long learning, and to potential mechanisms that allow for the benefits of these technologies to be widely shared (e.g. basic income, broad capital ownership).
After this course, students should be able to
- Explain what is meant by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the technologies that are involved and the potential opportunities and threats that these technologies have on society and development opportunities
- Develop skills of detecting and assessing emerging technologies (e.g. MySQL skills for exploring patent databases)
- Acquire knowledge on machine learning techniques
- Identify the set of policies that are relevant to encourage the appropriate development of new technologies
- Explain the role of policy as a development tool in the context of emerging technologies
- Identify the potential negative consequences to society and to individuals of emerging technologies and identify appropriate policy responses to mitigate these consequences
- L. Wang
- N. Foster-McGregor