The fourth industrial revolution (James Watt's steam engine being the first, electricity and division of labour the second, and I.T. the third) will involve transforming the industrial process so that, rather than for the masses, it works around the individual user. The idea is to build a system which can quickly and easily alter its production based on demand while still remaining highly efficient, completely automated, and cost effective.
The potentials enabled by this mode of production are enormous. For example, the communication between smart products on the Internet of Things and the smart machines manufacturing them on what GE calls the “Industrial Internet” means that objects will be able to monitor their own use and determine when they are going to give out.
If your phone knows that it is going to “die” in the near future, it can notify the factory, which can alter its production levels to reflect the data coming in from the smart objects produced there. When your phone kicks the bucket, there will already be another one waiting for you, meaning the days of back-ordering are numbered.
What’s more, as this process becomes more sophisticated and integrated, your phone will arrive already programmed with your custom settings, just like how you had it when it gave out on you a few hours ago.
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