Building For the 4TH Industrial Revolution
Author | Evelyn Ngatia
When I wrote the book ‘Understanding the 4th Industrial Revolution’, I was only writing on a topic that fascinated me. But as I continue to research, it is becoming very clear that the world is changing. We are in a momentous period in time. We should not waste this moment but get moving and build for the next. The 4th Industrial Revolution is here. We are being presented with many opportunities to build.
It is important to first understand the meaning of 4IR. We can then look at it from a Christian perspective.
What is the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)?
4IR refers to technologies that will synchronise the physical and digital worlds. For example, an autonomous car is a physical persona that connects to the internet and interconnects to other devices forming its digital persona. We refer to the connectivity and interconnectivity as the Internet of Things (IoT) – a key 4IR technology.
The IoT also connects human beings with the internet and interconnects them with devices and software. There are emerging technologies that will enable the Human Internet of Things (HIoT). They include gene sequencing, gene editing, synthetic biology, neurotechnology, and human chips.
Other examples of 4IR technologies include artificial intelligence (digital technology), advanced robotics (physical technology), and gene editing (biological technology), among others. All these contribute towards the synchronisation of the physical and the digital world.
4IR follows the first, second and third industrial revolutions. Their respective characteristics are mechanical power, electrical power, and digital power.
The Merriam – Webster dictionary says a revolution is a sudden, radical or complete change. Being a revolution, the 4IR will impact every individual, organisation, and economy significantly.
Technology in the Bible
1. Noah’s Ark
Genesis 6:14–18 NLT
“Build a large boat from cypress wood and waterproof it with tar, inside and out. Then construct decks and stalls throughout its interior. 15 Make the boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.16 Leave an 18-inch opening below the roof all the way around the boat. Put the door on the side, and build three decks inside the boat—lower, middle, and upper. 17 “Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes. Everything on earth will die. 18 But I will confirm my covenant with you. So enter the boat—you and your wife and your sons and their wives.
In Genesis 6, the wickedness of humankind upsets God and He decides to destroy it. Before He does, He gives Noah an instruction to build something new – an ark (ship or boat). From the above passage, God was very specific about the dimensions of the ark. He specified the type of timber, roof, access door, waterproofness, and decks. He was also very specific about who could get onto the ship. Those who could get in were Noah, his wife and children, and pairs of animals of all kinds.
This was a significant moment, a major shift or turning point in the world. The old was going, and the new was coming. God called Noah to build something new to transition into a new world. God gave Noah specific instructions on how to build the boat that would survive the floods. Noah listened and obeyed God, who saved his family from the flood.
God is specific, even today. He still shares His wisdom with us. If you learn to hear God and obey His instructions, He will show you what to build and how to build it.
2. The Tower of Babel
Immediately after the story of Noah and the ark, we find the story of the Tower of Babel.
Genesis 11:1-9 AMP
Now the whole earth spoke one language and used the same words (vocabulary). 2 And as people journeyed eastward, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and they settled there. 3 They said one to another, “Come, let us make bricks and fire them thoroughly [in a kiln, to harden and strengthen them].” So they used brick for stone [as building material], and they used tar (bitumen, asphalt) for mortar. 4 They said, “Come, let us build a city for ourselves, and a tower whose top will reach into the heavens, and let us make a [famous] name for ourselves, so that we will not be scattered [into separate groups] and be dispersed over the surface of the entire earth [as the Lord instructed].” 5 Now the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one [unified] people, and they all have the same language. This is only the beginning of what they will do [in rebellion against Me], and now no evil thing they imagine they can do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let Us (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) go down and there confuse and mix up their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the surface of the entire earth; and they stopped building the city. 9 Therefore the name of the city was Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the entire earth; and from that place the Lord scattered and dispersed them over the surface of all the earth.
This story is a stark contrast to Noah’s building. Noah was building according to God’s blueprint, but the tower builders were building according to their plan. Their agenda was to make a famous name for themselves. We are also told that it was in rebellion against God. In Noah’s case, what he built lasted and saved him and his family. God Himself stopped what the tower builders were building – it did not see the light of day.
The 4th Industrial Revolution
As we enter the new era – the 4IR era, ask yourself, ‘what is God calling me to build or help build?’ The world has shifted and there is no going back. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of 4IR technologies. Stop looking back and hoping that things will return to normal – build for the new era. It’s now a world under construction and there’s lots of ‘construction’ happening. People are building new businesses, coming up with new medical breakthroughs, developing new digital platforms and software, etc. To build something sustainable, you have to hear from God on what to build and how to build it. Many Christians have great ideas but are ‘parked and praying’ (I got that from a certain Man of God) instead of going out and executing the great ideas that God has downloaded to them.
Across the ages, technology is always changing. With the introduction of new technology, there has always been fear. Fear is not always a bad thing. Like any other emotion, it alerts us to the environment so that we can do something about it. If the fear is about massive job losses, then how can YOU use technology to create new jobs?
For you to thrive in this 4IR, it is important to first educate yourself on 4IR, the emerging technologies, and how they will affect your business, career, industry or economy. Knowledge is power. The next thing is to strategise or re-strategise as an individual, organisation or country.
I am reading a book by Derek Schuurman called ‘Shaping a Digital World—Faith, Culture and Computer Technology’. It was a timely recommendation by a friend. It has encouraged me that mature Christians are relating technology to faith. One of my key take outs from this book is something the author says. ‘The designers of technological objects embed their personal or corporate values into their devices’. What I got from this is that if a creator of technology has ill intentions, then that is why they designed the technology and that is what it will produce. The reverse is also true.
There is currently a lot of mistrust in ‘Big Tech’ (the most dominant tech companies in the world such as Google, Microsoft, and Facebook). I challenge you as a Christian to build what God has called you to build. Stand up and be counted. Do your part.
- The era is turning. Like the sons of Issachar in 1 Chronicles 12:32, it is important to discern the times and seasons that we are in.
- Educate yourself and strategise for the 4IR.
- As the era turns, ask yourself what God has called you to build.
- Build as per God’s plan for you.
- Do not build for your own famous name’s sake, lest God Himself scatters your plans.
Get a copy of Understanding the 4th Industrial Revolution here
The print version of the book is available from the author.