Experts discuss 4IR impact on South Africa| Stellenbosch Business School Skip to main content
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is a new period that expands the impact of digital technologies in new and unpredictable ways – chang

The University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) hosted a panel discussion around the impact that the 4IR will have on South Africa at the School’s popular Leader’s Angle event, which took place on Thursday, 19 July 2018.

The event was held at the FNB Portside Building in the Cape Town CBD and MBA head, Martin Butler, who is passionate about innovation in technology, was the facilitator.

Alison Jacobson, co-founder of The Field, a purpose-led organisation dedicated to equipping leaders and their organisations to navigate our digital future, said new truths are defining everything.

“Everybody always talks about how ‘it is fine, robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is going to take out the routine, the rules, and the repetitive-based work; that it can’t do empathy or human creativity’.

“But I have watched a video of an AI painting that was beautiful art, because it analysed patterns of how people appreciate art and what we like and then according to those patterns produced art that is beautiful to us,” she said.

“The empathy factor, the ‘oh don’t worry what we’re going to be left to do is all the human creative stuff’, is very much up for grabs,” she warned.

Here’s what she had to say:

Dr Albert Strever, senior lecturer at the Department of Viticulture and Oenology at Stellenbosch University (SU), was part of a research team that produced a report for the Western Cape Agriculture Department where they investigated mega trends affecting agriculture in the Western Cape.

Dr Strever said that this sector is now moving to a system of smart farming. “Precision agriculture and smart farming is not only positioning technology; now it’s artificial intelligence (AI) and it starts where it is implemented in your farming management system,” he explained.

“That’s the challenge. It is one thing to put a tractor with positioning technology on the farm, but it is another thing integrating it with your financial system,

Here’s what he had to say:

The discussion was concluded by Prof Thomas Thurner, CPUT’s Research Chair of Innovation Society, who spoke about consequences and strategies for Industry 4.0.

“I don’t see big threats coming our way. If we have robots who can take brainless tasks away from us, we should embrace that.

“Our challenge starts with what happens afterwards? We need to come forward and develop utopian visions of how a society could look like embracing those technologies because they come either way,” he said.

Here’s what he had to say:


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