Why 4IR Technology?

A technological revolution is unfolding before us that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope and complexity the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) will be unlike anything humankind has experienced. Yet, we have not managed to leverage these technological advancements for faster and more effective Global Goals delivery. As we usher in the Decade of Action, this is the opportune moment to take action and proactively couple one of the greatest revolutions in humanity with the potential to solve some of our greatest challenges.

A new wave of transformative technology

The 4IR builds on top of many of the incredible technological advances made since the middle of last century – from 3D printing to Artificial Intelligence (AI) – which was born out of the Third Industrial Revolution, often referred to as the Digital Revolution. The 4IR distinguishes itself from the last revolution, by not merely building on top of these ground-breaking technologies but rather by fusing these technologies, blurring the line between the physical, digital and biological spheres – resulting in a new generation of technology. It is in this fusion that we see the transformative power of the 4IR, changing how we relate to one another, how we work, how our economies and governments operate, and even putting into question what it means to be human.

Near endless applications for the Global Goals

A new wave of transformative technology means there is a tremendous opportunity to deliver solutions for social and environmental challenges in ways we could have never imagined, as our recent report shows 70% of the 169 indicators underlying the Global Goals can be enabled by 4IR technology. Not surprisingly there are great examples of the potential of 4IR for societal good. From the integration of algorithms, satellite data and cloud computing to provide near real-time insights into deforestation, to the use of blockchain to prevent blood diamonds entering the supply chain, to just name a few. The different applications to use Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies for good are near endless.

Towards an equitable & inclusive future

The disruptive potential of these technologies brings both unprecedented opportunities to accelerate the delivery of the Global Goals but if we are not careful, it may present unintended societal consequences. There is a real risk in exacerbating existing biases that could result in even more inequality. To illustrate, well developed AI solutions could reduce the costs of medical diagnosis accelerating the delivery of SDG3. However, as certain groups have enjoyed better access to healthcare and research, they are better represented in medical data, data which is used to train AI, resulting in biases towards these groups. This is why we must develop 4IR technology responsible and in an inclusive way with ethics and values built in.

As the 4IR unfolds, we stand at a critical junction to put these technologies to work in a responsible way to increase the likelihood of achieving the Global Goals by 2030. For this a fundamental shift is urgently needed, from the current race to deploy new technologies for short-term growth and quarterly profits, to a more considered long-term and responsible approach that actively harnesses technology to tackle the world’s most pressing issues. Therefore, 2030Vision seeks to advance this by connecting problem owners with solution holders to identify the genuine opportunities for impact, bringing together the private sector, the public sector, academic and civil society to capture this opportune moment to rally and define this new cooperative effort to achieving the Global Goals.

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