Disrupted: 5 Ways AI Has Driven Industry 4.0

From the introduction of the printing press to the birth of the internet, industry and innovation have always gone hand-in-hand. The rise of Industry 4.0 is proof of this.

Evolution in industry always corresponds with that within society, and technology is the ever-present catalyst that drives this change. However, in AI’s relatively short time with us, it has already had a transformative impact. 

Thanks to this virtually omniscient technology, Industry 4.0 is here to stay, and society may never be the same. Artificial intelligence will upend society forever, and here are 5 sectors AI has disrupted.

 Education: An Omniscient Tutor

A depiction of a chalk and black board, symbolizing academia and showing how AI will impact Industry 4.0 in terms of education.

Students resort to different approaches to their studies, and many desperately crave an alternative to learning-induced boredom. To the technologically savvy college student, platforms such as Chat GPT are ten times more efficient than an overbearing tutor. 

Obviously, some schools have railed against the use of artificial intelligence, while prestigious institutions such as Cambridge University have already banned Chat GPT. Nevertheless, it does seem like supporting a collapsing building with a broomstick; it is the most futile thing. AI has come to stay, and with its rapid evolution, it will aid (if not replace) educators globally. 

A key reason behind many educators’ fear of AI comes from the practice of plagiarism. While AI-powered plagiarism checkers like Turnitin already exist, a highly-evolved AI that solves quadratic equations without breaking a sweat is like the Holy Grail to a student/plagiarizer. 

Not to mention, existing apps such as Quillbot (paraphrasing) and Duolingo (language learning) have already brought ease to many learners. Just think of what the education sector will look like in a decade. A staggering scenario to ponder.                                                           

In Africa, a technological revolution in the education sector with the aid of AI would be a game changer. Due to the dawn of Industry 4.0 globally, AI could help bring a level of efficiency never seen before. Either that or it could produce a generation of workers overly dependent on AI at creativity’s cost. It could go both ways; think of the glass being half full or half empty. Regardless, it would be an interesting paradigm that affects Industry 4.0 in unforeseen ways.

Medicine: A New Line Of Healers

A reading of heart signals from an EKG. Representing healthcare and its place in Industry 4.0 and AI

Contemplating how AI would revolutionize medicine may cause you to imagine outcomes straight out of a sci-fi movie. Gifting the development of drugs to our robot overlords is already a reality, even as the first AI-generated drug has already entered clinical trials with human patients.

Be it that or using AI in identifying and combatting brain tumours, the machines have shown us that they are probably really proficient at this healthcare thing. Look no further than ChatGPT’s wide range of applications. In fact, Chat GPT is already proving to be more adept at giving medical advice than physicians, and there have been growing concerns about the phasing out of the human element of healthcare. So then you ask, how would this ultimately affect Industry 4.0?

No one ever said we ought to be at war with the machines right off the bat. Harmony is the best policy, and healthcare in Industry 4.0 will thrive from the harmonization of AI and human input. According to Isaac Kahone, chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School, AI should take charge of the bureaucratic side of healthcare while doctors interface directly with patients. Retaining the human element to well…humans is a no-brainer. 

After all, for all our flaws and shortcomings, we humans can deliberately form human connections. A doctor or nurse continues relating with their patients and attends to their needs while an AI handles R&D; that is a match made in heaven and ultimately the progress of science. 

The future of healthcare in an AI-dominated world has the potential to be glorious. There is no telling the number of vaccines and the cures to diseases that AI would help discover. Imagine the technologies man will discover; sci-fi tech of the most wondrous form. Ultimately, it would usher in a paradigm that causes Industry 4.0 to operate at peak innovation…and even more. 

Law: Soliciting a New Era

Lady Justice. Representing the legal profession and its link to Industry 4.0.

Law as a sector is known for numerous things, particularly its sense of exclusivity. What happens if AI challenges this sense of exclusivity and the robot outperforms the barrister? After all, Chat GPT is smart enough to not only pass the bar but score in the top 10%.  

The intersection of law and AI can upend everything, even the relationship between companies and stakeholders. A virtually omniscient tool makes it easier to eliminate a human middleman, as seen in how AI is even being used to facilitate smooth mergers and acquisitions. Trusting machine intelligence to oversee the duties of your company secretariat obviously will lead to greater efficiency and a ripple effect throughout the wider Industry 4.0.

A pervading machine intelligence throughout industry and society offers numerous compelling outcomes, with a greater degree of deception being one of them. For instance, trusting any generative AI platform to help you in a court case is a dangerous terrain to tread on, and with Chat GPT already being used for case research albeit with terrible results, it goes to show a growing dependence on our machine buddies.

But what if the AI revolution in the legal sphere does not just stop at lawyers? Picture a court case over the patent of an AI-generated drug. You show up to court only to meet the regal presence of a machine intelligence serving as your judge. Such a possibility has become probable thanks to the rapid development of Industry 4.0.

Creative Arts: Our New Muses.

A robot. This represents the blend between art and AI.

Many have opined that AI will never have the creativity that proceeds from the human touch. That might be true, but machine intelligence has already shown it is great at simulating human input.

Many have already felt the effect AI has had on the creative dimension of Industry 4.0, with platforms such as DALL-E, Midjourney and Adobe Firefly already giving our best artists a run for their paintbrushes. On the music front, the buzz that arose from an AI-generated Drake and The Weekend song unnerves many sceptics but thrills many AI apologists. 

Perhaps the most “threatened” creative artist is the writer, who dreads irrelevance in the wake of AI’s seeming onslaught. With generative AI platforms having the ability to draft/write any prompt-based piece, a growing distrust of AI has arisen. Many writers have expressed their discontent, and a key component of this distrust has seeped through the ongoing Writers’ Guild strike in Hollywood. Their demands are many, among which include the move to allow artificial intelligence into screenwriting so long as writers’ credits are not affected. We live in an unprecedented era, and even as AI begins to replace writers, so will communications and artistic endeavour in Industry 4.0 be affected. This will probably be felt in the area of marketing communications, where AI may be used to create creative campaigns as iconic as past ones.

Religion: Homage To Our Machine Priests

A spiral of stained glass windows.

Although not directly related to industry, the marriage of religion and AI has the potential to upend society permanently. Replacing creeds and priests with machines may be awesome to some and blasphemous to others, yet this is already happening.

The bizarreness of an AI-generated church service may leave a sour taste in the mouths of many Christians. Still, it represents the role technology has always had in spreading religions. From the mass printing of Bibles by Gutenberg till now, religion has always had a symbiotic relationship with technology. AI however promises to deepen this relationship for better or worse, and the effects of this union are yet unknown. In fact, AI has already begun to adopt religious undertones thanks to AI-based religions founded by eccentric Silicon Valley engineers.  

Once viewed within the larger context of Industry 4.0, this phenomenon appears to be out of a sci-fi novel. Will these AI-based religions be at the behest of bored technocrats? Or will they be shunned by these technocrats who may not want to feel shackled to religion? Society will ultimately impact Industry 4.0, and the merger of AI and religion will alter industry forever. Machine intelligence will dominate the future in various forms, and AI as a religion may have interesting outcomes, such as devotees dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge.

Drawing the curtains

At this rate, Industry 4.0 is here to stay. Emergent technologies have accelerated its rise, chief among which is artificial intelligence. AI’s impact on Industry 4.0 reflects AI’s effect on the larger society, and this has already begun manifesting. Knowing how society affects industry with AI is necessary, as it poses questions on how the Third World would act.