Will the New Industrial Revolution Lead to a Controlled Society or to a Creative Society?
Terms such as the "Internet of Things", "Cyber-physical Systems" or "Industry 4.0" refer to different aspects of a new industrial revolution that is well underway. The first industrial revolution began about 250 years ago in the Western world and it changed society for good - for better or worse. The result of the new industrial revolution will change the industrial landscape beyond recognition. The all pervasive connectivity of the Internet of Things, for instance, will make current industry segments disappear. Whether this will lead to a renewed and all-inclusive humanism or to a 1984-style control scenario is up to us. Historically, the Renaissance in Western Europe towards the end of the 14th century presents a technological and social watershed with surprisingly similar patterns. And it was a similar combination of technology and community forces that allowed the humanistic ideals of the Renaissance to spread and influence society - until today. It was then – as it is today – the conflict between trust and fear, between shared purpose and the need for control, which determined the direction of development of both society and technology. The recent increase of open technologies and projects has led to a revival of open communities, which embody purpose and trust as foundation. Can “Open Source” organizations be models for successful enterprises in future? Or will the current gathering of forces to maintain or even increase the level of control dominate as the result of this War of the Worlds?