Fourth Industrial Revolution

Indian Renaissance

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Nalanda Liberal Arts University 

As I approach my near 70 years on this planet I’ve been contemplating the changes that I have witnessed over the years, the powerful , positive changes that had elevated so much of our thinking , our goodness , our deep humanity. Changes that, in a very small way I have been part of . 

As a 16 year old , being involved in the Grosvenor Square demonstration against the Vietnam war had meaning. I remember vividly , as a young member of the CND movement , images of the gross disfigurement napalm inflicted on its victims. They burned into my psyche a hatred for war, for ‘the evil that men do’ , for the foul nature of doctrinal and greed fuelled conflict. Somehow being part of the Grosvenor Square protest was for me an absolution of the sins of our fathers, my association by birth.

Protest led to change and in turn a better society.

Sadly, more recently,  we have had to come to terms with fact that so much of the milk of human kindness nurtured over the last few decades has soured. New wave party policies , a swing to the right in thinking, has led us all into a new world order we really were not expecting and really, really never wanted.

So that’s what it is and, in true human spirit,  most of us get on with it and manage.  It’s the hard skin scenario. Chaff something long enough, hard skin develops and the pain goes away. But so does the sensitivity.

Have you ever wondered though, just how these negative feelings actually affect your happiness, affect your health both physically and mentally? As humans we have the ability to brush off that which we are not comfortable with but does this mean our exposure to them has no effect on us at all. Or is it like the foul air that I have to breathe in my Delhi hometown ; out of sight, out of mind but destroying deep inside.

Just look around at the results of our hardening that are already making themselves apparent. Suicide is on the increase and depression  rampant. 30 %  of the population of rich countries suffer from emotion fired IBS.

So what do we do to try and stay afloat?

For me it’s a question of rejecting negativity and looking for positivity in the worthwhile things that are going on around us.

Let’s look at a real big issue ; Artificial Intelligence, Robots as an example. Many are nervous of the prospects ahead. Are we to be ruled by Robot Demons. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us without question and it’s only a handful of years after Jeremy Rifkin introduced us to the Third Industrial Revolution . Things are happening fast and we are most certainly , in a very powerful way , entering into a brave new world of Artificial Intelligence. But is it all doom and gloom?

No, there are tremendous benefits to be gained by having an efficient, quick moving workforce on our side. Now for an old Luddite like me and a creationist to boot it’s been a hard conversion bringing me to this point. After all AI will in many ways be a substitute God and robots will take away millions of  jobs in the mass textile industry, as well as very many others. But I have heard such convincing and stirring arguments about what will be. I would be a fool to turn my back on reality.

In truth, the fact that robots can do almost anything based on information provided but can’t create, works very well in my favour. I mentor design and therein lies the robot’s rub. You can’t teach design, you can’t fill a student’s head with facts and hope they become great creatives, you have to discover what skills, what ability, what passions they have and help develop them up into the magic needed.





The 4D’s a Design School does. 


Creating a new building. A robot technician can taken on board the facts and figures fed to it. Drawings, measurements, finishes etc. It can produce the most amazing technical and 3D drawings, walk through videos, the lot. Mesmerising and very near perfect Virtual Reality. Whilst doing this it will be able to work out the structural engineering needed to construct the building and even produce an accurate costing for the project. 

Time lines and schedules can be worked up to ensure the job starts and finishes on time. Think for instance just how detailed and all inclusive this can be, i.e a 2 two year build in a state like Kerala where predicted climate conditions can be factored into the project. When is it a good time to do this or that and when is a bad time weather wise. Amazing

The robot can even scour data records on contractors, professional advisors et al and link the right people with the right skills and performance for the project. And all in a fraction of the time us mere humans would take. Wow. 

But give the robot a pencil and a sketch book along with an open brief to create completely original magic and the results would be non existent 

So creativity is everything and therein is the solution to the concerns so many have about Robots and job losses.

Let’s put our minds to envisioning the cities of the future, the Smart Cities. Without doubt they will, by and large be  placed on terra firma . We like our planet. We like trees and gardens, rivers and waterways , hills and dales. 

In my mind’s eye I see domes or zones allowing for controlled climate. Many believe the earth was once covered with a water canopy, firmament creating a global green house.

Depending on the onus of the work carried out within the zones the optimal efficiency will depend on air conditions. IE, the central hub, the god of the city would undoubtedly be one massive computer, requiring all that’s needed to keep the computer healthy. Ultra clean air.

Other zones would have other activities, IE hydroponic crop production, which would again benefit from certain climate controls.

There would be  zones designed to ‘keep us human’ which to my mind means the creativity domes. Thinkers, writers, poets , philosophers, weavers, potters, mathematicians, carpenters, chefs. Jugglers, dancers, sculptors, designers, theoretical physicists. All mixed up , deliberately. Because, as with the ancient Liberal Arts Universities of India, all knowledge is special, all knowledge is precious, be you a juggler or a brain surgeon .

Great dance, discovering the reality of zero . Musical rhythms that generate the same energy as a wonderful building. 

Which leads me to my final point. India. India the Past, India the Present and India the Future. What a wonderful space for young people to be in at this time. 

Where calculation and creativity comfortably collide, where circles and straight lines connect effortlessly, a full revolution.

So that is my panacea for staying alive. I’ll keep you posted as things progress.

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