What Is The Fourth Industrial Revolution? How Can It Be Understood Locally?

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The Fourth Industrial Revolution (featured image and above) uses technologies to manufacture, distribute, sell and recycle but needs to be understood as the way we can create more relevant, sensible and harmonious products.

We need to talk about what we know about it, what we think it is more, in the pub, the shop, at work, in the library, the council offices, the street, on the bus on the phone, on the internet.  We need to break down the divide between the people who work in technologies and the others in society because we all need to solve the problems that the fourth revolution presents us with.

If we do talk about it then we can share the thought that we want to have back a sense of purpose, direction, quality of products and meaning.


We know that companies, charities and government should collaborate. 3D manufacturing is an important part of our future.

Just as important is how we understand where we are now, how we can all start to think about how the local environment can improve, how we can encourage the Googles, the Facebooks, the Amazons, the Netflixes, the Sports Directs, the agency culture, to participate in a quality of future thinking that makes us all feel inspired to contribute: how the cleanliness of the streets, the materials we use to make streets, shop signs, pavements, the streets we walk through, the way we transport ourselves on our daily journeys, can heal us.

We all need to talk, share learn and give up some of our lonely greed.

Lonely greed is a result of marketing segmentation that divides us all in our lives and communities from peace, calm, and a meaningful way of living and working. Lonely greed feeds a divided society that gambles and is gambled on by winners and losers. We need to be communities and customers of good things, of quality, creativity and innovation and we need to relearn why the things we did after the second world war, the way european countries and america made a big mistake in massifying things that really didn’t deserve to be massified.


And now we have a second chance with a sense of smaller things that resonate with the larger good. 3D printing and the sharing of knowledge, new manufacturing materials through recycling and local skills audits, Open Innovation platforms can help organisations, regardless of size or location, to better innovate by crowdsourcing ideas, designs and other solutions.

The World of Tomorrow (imagining how we’ll have solved the world’s problems by 2069 written in 1969)

In every home there’s knowledge, there’s wasted talent because of the way we work.

How can companies communicate, relate better with their localities? Do they need to begin to think about new kinds of jobs, opportunities that meet research and development needs as well as tapping into the history, knowledge and experience of the local? The tools we currently use, marketing segmentation and the internet, does little more than create case studies to ‘prove’ something has achieved its target market and has the effect of closing off the potential for wider distribution or connection. As a result we have an increasing divide between elite and mass understandings.

Neither is right and particularly when we are thinking about the future factory, the future workforce, the future job and future currencies we need to have much bigger, living conversations meetings, questions. When Nottingham Contemporary artists, workers who are often themselves working in the gig, short contract economies say we have a need for a migrant university, they’re saying we need a space where people from all over Nottingham, can come to a Campus and learn: talk, listen, learn and think about how other people in Nottingham think, feel, behave and live. That’s culture: how we change the way we communicate, live and work for the everyone in us.

We need to realise how culturally wealthy we are and share the way we do things.

When we hear about Rome and its post Berlusconi rubbish problem, we should be able to share best practice across geographical spaces across Europe and the wider world just because we can. Think of Rushcliffe and Nottingham: we are pretty superb at understanding incineration, rubbish, having places for it and recycling.

In  Waste Management and recycling services, we’re often also managing migrant workers: people doing rubbish collection are managed by employment agencies. Over the last fifty years, agencies have gained a social authority to control scrutiny of how labour in the food, manufacture, logistics and distribution industries are contracted, inducted and treated. Even when agencies are members of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, the GLA itself may be overseeing an unacceptable level of local risk in their employment practices because noone is looking at a whole quality of life picture that is integrative.

The GLA isn’t part of the public’s consciousness, you have to know about them to find out about them. The way they work is to discover serious labour abuses: slave labour, violence and harms within industries people are working in, so that more nuanced harms of the sector, the way employment agencies who may themselves be leading local members of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority contract, induct and reference staff for landlords and banks may create uneccessary precarity so that these workers become prey to illegal supply chains in drink, drugs, gambling and smuggling. We need to look at work and how it’s managed for company owners, professional people as well as those in the gig and gang labour economies.


The problems we have are always human and the real problem we have now is constructed need and greed and the actual need for new systems that work as well at the local level as they do at the regional, national and international level. While we pretend this is something that can be addressed by third party contracting in the gig and gang labour risk infested environment (that serves third parties of all kinds), we’re completely wrong. The reason we’ve ‘discovered’ racism, anti semitism, sexual abuse is because we’re looking for them at the expense of creating a more hopeful and balanced view of people that secures rights and responsibilities.

We have the same problems all countries have in creating jobs and working environments that help people feel loved, respected, included: how they learn, grow and thrive.

I think we need to create new kinds of jobs, creative jobs, with training and development between professional and unskilled jobs.

Nottingham Trent University’s Good Work Project’s conference on 10th July  was seriously asking questions, (find out about Professor Ian Clark’s work on Car Washes, Azeem Hanif of the United Private Hire Drivers Union’s  work to help Private Hire Drivers, Ian Hodson of the Food and Allied Workers Union’s work to raise awareness of the problems food manufacture and distribution can cause. Kiri Langmead of NTU talked about worker co-operatives, Lucy Robinson of the Chamber of Commerce brought an sme perspective to working environments.

When we think of tech revolutions we think we have no choice: supply chains, like cars should always drive faster, faster, faster, bigger, bigger, bigger when they need to be smaller, smaller, smaller, slower, slower, slower: distributing knowledge and learning new things about old issues and problems.

The internet is useful but it isn’t everything. Again, it could be smaller, jobs for developers and programmers should involve far more of an apprenticeship that develops other business and life development skills so that these new kinds of jobs can take those individuals out of silos, out of isolation. When you think that in the production of an Amazon Echo there are 57 different categories of worker (see below), it’s really important to understand that at the bottom of the supply chain is probably some form of slave labour that is driving further social divisions in societies elsewhere.

The things more locally accountable to all the human life in an area, visually: virtual spaces and platforms that enable innovation and crowdsourcing are great for some things but they’re cycles of value that need to be distributed further. Localism isn’t ignorance, it’s an all kinds of knowledge economy that drives innovation and growth.

We need to ask the questions about the way we serve, unserve underserve the hard to reach places and democratise them asking the same questions of the underprivileged that  ask of the privileged. Ideas can be a currency to mitigate the Privilege/Underprivilege divide in Nottingham: creating new jobs and new ways of understanding value between professions and the gig and gang labour economies that have a much greater impact on what we can make and do than the studies suggest.

Below are the roles involved in the creation of an Amazon Echo: explained by the work of the (very!) hard working  Vladan Joler and Kate Crawford in the visual essay: Anatomy of an AI system”

Chief Executives

IT Infrastructure Engineers

Cloud Engineers

Sales Managers

Data Scientists

Hardware Engineers

Machine Learning Engineers

Software Developers

Geo Scientists

Software Developers

Geo Scientists

Applications, Network Architects

Mining/Geological Engineers

Data Scientists

Transportations Storage

Distribution Managers

Information Security Analysts

Air Transportation Workers

Computer System Analysts

Intel Manufacturing Supervisor

Database Administrator

Network Computer Systems Admin

AT&T Cable Tech

Cargo Vessel 2nd Engineer

Web Developer

Miner (Canada)

Miner (US)

Landfill worker

Intel Technician

Amazon Data Tech (US)

Rail Transportation Workers

Explosives Workers

Ordnance Handling Experts

Blasters, Radio

Telecoms Equipment


Mining Machine

Cargo Vessel

Hazardous Material Removal Workers

Component Manufacturer (US)

Rubbish Collection

Amazon Delivery Driver (US)

FoxConn Assembly Worker (China)

Software/IT (China)

Senior Software Engineer (Softserve Ukraine)

Mining (Ind Ave China)


Manufacturing (Ind Ave China)

Software Engineer (Info Sys China)

FB Content Moderator (for Task Skills Philippines)

Cargo Vessel Cadet (International)

Miner (China)

Miner (Congo)

Slave Labour in mines throughout the supply chain possibly.

Info from Anatomy of An AI by the (very) hard working Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler (2018)