The world is on the brink of a technological revolution that will alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) offers huge opportunity to transform and realign our education, economics, politics and societies as it integrates the physical with the biological and the digital, which might bring about human irrelevance. This was the message by Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) when he delivered the keynote lecture at the 2018 Science Forum South African on Wednesday, 12 December 2018.
The three-day forum, which ends on Friday 14 December 2018, is a large, open, public platform for debating the science and society interface. It focuses on issues such as how Africa can achieve the Sustainable Development.
Explaining Industry 4.0 and the effect it has on institutions of higher learning, Prof Marwala pointed out that the change it is bringing about is unprecedented, as it surpasses anything that humankind has experienced before. He said that mankind do not yet know just how Industry 4.0 will unfold. In Africa and across the world, 4IR vs Artificial Intelligence (AI) vs human irrelevance is a conversation that requires a response that must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global society. “One needs to understand the impact 4IR and encourage the reinvention of the existing academic plan,” said Prof Marwala.
The impact of AI in society was highlighted when Prof Marwala was interviewed on TV news broadcaster, eNCA, following his opening remarks at the Science Forum. He highlighted that the underlying technology of 4IR is AI and that South Africa should embrace this paradigm where physical and social phenomena are programmed to solve complex problems. This sort of mutation of knowledge holds great benefit for most industries – especially trade, banking, medicine and engineering.
The Science Forum, which saw over 3000 researchers, scientists, policy-makers and students from all over the world participating in discussion around 4IR and what opportunities can be exploited to advance communities marginalised by previous revolutions, preparing young people to be active Industry 4.0 participants, and the role of government in this regard.
Other UJ UJ speakers / moderators / entities that presenting at the Forum:
- Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS)
- Prof Erika Kraemer-Mbula, Associate Professor of Economics, UJ
- Prof Simon Connell, Professor of Physics, Department of Mechanical Engineering Science, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE), UJ
- Prof Bettine Jansen van Vuuren, Professor of Zoology and Director of the Centre for Ecological Genomics and Wildlife Conservation, UJ
- Prof Saurabh Sinha, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Internationalisation