Home Technology & Safety Industrial Revolution (IR): The First IR to the Fourth
Industrial Revolution (IR): The First IR to the Fourth

Industrial Revolution (IR): The First IR to the Fourth


The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad will soon be announcing the direction and policies that will guide industries in Malaysia towards Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0).

However, what is the Fourth Industrial Revolution all about and what changes will it bring? What are the world influencer saying about the Fourth IR?

Still unsure what the fourth industrial revolution is? What is an industrial revolution?

Industrial Revolution 1.0

Picture source: www.timetoast.com

The Industrial Revolution (IR) is described as a transition to new manufacturing processes. IR was first coined in the 1760s, during the time where this revolution began. The transitions in the first IR included going from hand production methods to machines, the increasing use of steam power, the development of machine tools and the rise of the factory system.

Industrial Revolution 2.0

Picture source: www.greentechmedia.com

The Second IR , also known as Technological Revolution, began somewhere in the 1870s. The advancements in IR 2.0 included the development of methods for manufacturing interchangeable parts and widespread adoption of pre-existing technological systems such as telegraph and railroad networks. This adoption allowed the vast movement of people and ideas, enhancing communication. Moreover, new technological systems were introduced, such as electrical power and telephones.

Industrial Revolution 3.0

Then came the Third Industrial Revolution (IR 3.0). IR 3.0 introduced the transition from mechanical and analogue electronic technology to digital electronics which began from the late 1950s. Due to the shift towards digitalisation, IR 3.0 was given the nickname, “Digital Revolution”.  The core factor to this revolution is the mass production and widespread use of digital logic circuits and its derived technologies such as the computer, handphones and the Internet. These technological innovations have arguably transformed traditional production and business techniques enabling people to communicate with another without the need of being physically present. Certain practices that were enabled during IR 3.0 is still being practiced till this current day, for example – the proliferation of digital computers and digital record.

Industrial Revolution 4.0

Picture source: www.moltecinternational.com

Now, with advancements in various technologies such as robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), additive manufacturing and autonomous vehicles, the term “Fourth Industrial Revolution” or IR 4.0 was coined by Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of World Economic Forum, in the year 2016. The technologies mentioned above are what you call – cyber-physical systems. A cyber-physical system is a mechanism that is controlled or monitored by computer-based algorithms, tightly integrated with the Internet and its users. One example that is being widely practiced in industries today is the usage of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines. These machines are operated by giving it instructions using a computer. Another major breakthrough that is associated with IR 4.0 is the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI), where we can see it being implemented into our smartphones. AI is also one of the main element that gives life to Autonomous Vehicles and Automated Robots.

As we continue to progress towards IR 4.0, let’s take a look at some of the notable thoughts and views regarding this phenomenon that were expressed by influential people from various industries.

Klaus Schwab

Picture source: YouTube

“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.” – Klaus Schwab, German engineer and economist, founder and executive chairman of World Economic Forum (WEF).

 Dileep George

Picture source: medium.com

“Imagine a robot capable of treating Ebola patients or cleaning up nuclear waste.” – Dileep George, AI and neuroscience researcher.

Inga Beale

Picture source: www.runnethlondon.com

“For many people, the smartphone is the first and only computer they have.” – Inga Beale, CEO, Lloyd.

Gary Coleman

Picture source: www.flickr.com

Gary Coleman said, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution is still in its nascent state. But with the swift pace of change and disruption to business and society, the time to join in is now.” – Gary Coleman, Global Industry and Senior Client Advisor, Deloitte Consulting.

 André Kudelski

Picture source: World Economic Forum

Regarding IR, Kudelski said, “Any skilled engineer can take control remotely of any connected ‘thing’. Society has not yet realized the incredible scenarios this capability creates.” – André Kudelski, Chairman of the Board and CEO of the Kudelski Group.

Dominik Wee

Dominik Wee (Picture source: McKinsey & Company)

“Industry 4.0 is more than just a flashy catchphrase. A confluence of trends and technologies promises to reshape the way things are made.” – Dominik Wee and Cornelius Baur, McKinsey & Company.

Satya Nadella


Picture source: www.cnet.com

“We should do our very best to work in helping train people for the jobs of the future. None of us can sit here and predict all these jobs, but the lump of labour fallacy will be disproven, there will be new jobs. But how do we know what are the skills? This is where we need new breakthroughs.” – Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft.

Bruce Schneier

Picture source: www.itprotoday.com

“The internet is no longer a web that we connect to. Instead, it’s a computerized, networked, and interconnected world that we live in. This is the future, and what we’re calling the Internet of Things.” – Bruce Schneier, computer security professional, writer for The Guardian.

IR 4.0 is an ongoing trend that brings together cross-ministerial and cross-industrial initiatives to work towards embracing IR 4.0. Various initiatives have already begun in order promote IR 4.0 such as the practice of additive manufacturing and the production of autonomous vehicles.