Future Tense is the citizen’s guide to the future. A partnership among Arizona State University, Slate and the New America Foundation, Future Tense explores emerging technologies and their transformative effects on society and public policy.
In the opening session of the World Economic Forum’s meeting last week in Davos, founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab said, “We must develop a comprehensive and globally shared view of how technology is affecting our lives and reshaping our economic, social, cultural, and human environments. There has never been a time of greater promise, or greater peril.”
This observation serves as the core of what he and other world leaders are terming “the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” the theme of this year’s wintry summit in Switzerland. Building on the German government’s “Industry 4.0,” the current national strategy for “smart” factories integrating physical manufacturing with the Internet of Things, Schwab and the WEF argue that the coming years—likely littered with 3-D printers and designer babies—will mark the beginning of a revolution unlike any we have ever experienced, unique for its scale, scope, and complexity.