David DiBiase (ESRI) – “What will Become of GIS People in Industry 4.0?”
“Industry 4.0” is shorthand for what the World Economic Forum calls “the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” The invention of the steam engine and construction of railroads brought the first industrial revolution in the 18th century. A second industrial revolution began in the 19th century with the advent of mass production. Digital computers heralded a third industrial revolution beginning in the 1960s. Today, the drivers of Industry 4.0 include “a ubiquitous and mobile internet, smaller, cheaper, and more powerful sensors, and artificial intelligence and machine learning.” Industry 4.0 is manifest in an Internet of Things that’s connecting billions of devices, and is likely to attract trillions in spending, in the coming decade. Many IoT devices “know where they are can act on their locational knowledge.” Foresman’s and Luscombe’s proposed Second Law of Geography claims that spatially enabled things have increased financial and functional utility. This increased utility, they argue, creates the basis for a spatially enabled economy.
However, other thought leaders worry that the Fourth Industrial Revolution may threaten many of today’s workers with “technological unemployment.” Not just the IoT, but international finance, social media, other human activities generate an unprecedented and ever-increasing volume, velocity and variety of data. Some foresee that human analysts and their employers will rely increasingly on machine learning and artificial intelligence to cope with the data deluge. Many already do. A body of research by economists, tech leaders, and forward-looking historians anticipates fundamental disruption of traditional employment by increasingly capable machines. This presentation will consider the implications of the IoT, and broader trends in data-driven discovery, for GIS work and workforce development.