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The fourth industrial revolution and the concerns around it

- Featured article by LAWYERS-ONLINE.CO.ZA - August 2019

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072 847 6416 |

We all saw it coming; a time in which machines will take over. Well, the time has come, and a new era has begun.

With that said, there has been a lot of talk, and fear, around the fourth industrial revolution. Two of the most prominent fears being that sensitive information will be at risk and that there will be a huge drop in employment numbers.

We will address both these factors in this article, but let’s first have a look at what the fourth industrial revolution actually is.

The fourth industrial revolution will no doubt change the way we live, interact and do business. This revolution is where all things, meaning machines, objects and devices, will connect and be able to interact with each other with little to no human involvement.

Yes, that basically means that intelligent machines that can carry out complex activities are being designed and made to talk to each other.

The concern around this is understandable. Some reports indicate that a 3rd of the activities in 60% of all occupations could become automated.

So the word on the street is that people will need to either find new jobs or learn new skills. It is said that with the rise of the fourth industrial revolution new opportunities will open up, which could also bring about whole new industries. There is no doubt about this. The only factor in question is how these opportunities will tie together.

People who have been keeping a keen eye on this new growth factor suggest that legal reform and partnerships between government, business and academia will need to put their heads together to ensure stability with regards to social equality and avoidance of drastic unemployment rates.

Still, it begs the question, what are your rights with regards to losing your employment to intelligent machines?

So far legislation and legalities are being worked on to accommodate this new growth. Research says legislation reforms will have to happen as not all legislation makes provision for some of the issues that might arise as the fourth industrial revolution settles in.

Currently the biggest focus is on how the fourth industrial revolution will increase productivity, enhance the economy and open up other opportunities and industries.

In conclusion, it should serve as consolation that there is a lot of awareness around the fear of unemployment as a result of the fourth industrial revolution; more so that the law is clearly aware that some legal changes will need to take effect. The biggest reality to take away from this is that some jobs will become obsolete but other jobs will be made available. So it appears employment will be redirected rather than result in a complete loss.

On another note, as seen on Law Practice News, new developments in law have been made to answer the requirements of the new revolution and the age of personal information and privacy. The ambitions here include efforts from the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) which is South Africa’s data protection law.

If you have any questions about the current legal happenings with regards to the protection of both employment and information, please consult our office for further information.

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072 847 6416 |


The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Concerns Around It - Legal Information South Africa