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Published: January 18, 2022 (2 years 2 months ago.)

The book in...
One sentence:
An examination of upcoming trends in technology and how they might (mostly framed as positives) affect the world.

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The predicted technological changes, while mostly presented as positives, might very well lead to potential civil unrest fueled by a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. This divide will be likely seen most prominently in automation (capital) replacing jobs (labor) of both blue (replace by robots) and white collar (replaced by AI) workers. A public-private (read fascism) should be built to ameliorate this unrest by understanding and controlling the rollout of said technology. Ironically there is a simultanious call to increase retirement age (drastically) along with the hope that these emerging technologies will create more jobs than they destroy even though the evidence points directly to that not happening. One major theme that can not be glossed over is that most of the new technology is in the digital world and will lead directly to a loss of privacy and an increased amount of surveillance that can be seen as nothing short of digital totalitarianism.

designates my notes. / designates important.


This is one of those books where, if you reference it, or even directly quote it, you will likely be called a conspiracy theorist. This is obviously used to deflect away from the very blunt language this book (and Covid-19: The Great Reset use to outline how Mr. Schwab and his merry band over at the World Economic Forum want to transform society. I suspect it is less painful for people to use the ad hominem attack of “conspiracy theorist” than it is for them to face what this and similar works portend. For those willing to set aside their cognitive dissonance and dive into the book(s)… strap in, because it is a wild ride indeed.

The main theme is clearly reshaping or transforming society. There is constant talk of collaboration. A call for public-private partnerships where everyone/all business/industries/governments/etc are involved.

Honestly I’m not seeing the difference between 3rd and 4th industrial revolution except 4th is faster. Schwab tries to differentiate, but the difference is in degree, not kind.

A few mega-trends, tech that will upend industries/societies in the coming decade(s): – autonomous vehicles – 3D printing – advanced robotics – new materials

On the bio-tech side, genetic engineering and neuroscience are the principle ingredients to the future. Both ostensibly, like the rest of the advancements, are to be beneficial to mankind, but if you read a little between the lines, they seem to usher in ever increasing controls to make and monitor humans so that we are more productive (ie - better slaves).

On the point of bio-tech, ethical considerations are “set aside”.

Schwab does outline some potential negatives with his vision:

We see that these concerns are really about quelling potential revolution/revolts. The book in whole walks a fine line between rolling out population control mechanisms while simultaneously pacifying said populations.

Another faux concern voiced is changing demographics.

As people live longer there will be more old people. As people have less babies there will be less children. These children would be the ones paying into social security/welfare programs many of the elderly depend on.

The solution is clear cut: the need to “drastically increase” retirement age. Notice how it isn’t only increase, but “drastically”. This is framed as a positive because older people can no remain “productive” longer, as if productivity were synonymous with a good life.

Another problem Schwab foresees is that all this innovation/automation will lead to job loss. Like past industrial/digital revolution these job losses will be offset by creating new jobs in new industries.

The example given is agriculture, where the population working in it was 90% of US now 2%. I argue making apps and growing crops are not in the same league. A lot of this app/software work is more make-work. How man hundreds of thousands of man-hours go into things like the endless updates for Firefox and Chrome? Are these things really improving or is all that labor/creativity being syphoned off in the same of “everyone must have a 40-hour per week job”?

Interestingly he then goes on to say fourth industrial revolution is already creating less jobs than the previous revolutions and that growth/productivity is sluggish. I’d argue that productivity and growth are actually negative. So much of the economy is make-work and financial voodoo that, if you are being honest, one must admit is not real production. Printing trillions of dollars or repackaging financial instruments into endless derivatives is not growth.

An example of a positive impact is the increased efficiency in hailing a cab (uber). I have to wonder, does this really have some kind of meaningful impact?! It feels very similar to calling make-work productivity.

Another example given is the rapid increase in fuel efficiency/energy storage. To this I simply ask: where?

‘Farhad Manjoo: “We may end up with a future in which a fraction of the workforce will do a portfolio of things to generate an income – you could be an Uber driver, an Instacart shopper, an Airbnb host and a Taskrabbit”.27’

How fulfilling! You can be busy as a bee 40 hours a week providing every convenience to our overlords.

The real problem here isn’t all the make-work to keep people busy in the rat-race. No, the real risk is global instability/violence brought on by inequality. If you read between the lines here, Schwab is concerned about maintaining the status-quo and keeping everyone “working”. This runs quite counter to the rest of the book. If we are to believe automation and the like will push out labor, shouldn’t we be looking to reduce the working hours of everyone? I recall reading about a claim made by (maybe) Buckminster Fuller at one of the first world’s fairs. He said something like the average person would only be working 15 hours a week while still producing as much as they did currently. In reality, Mom and Dad are now both working 40+ hours a week to raise 1-2 children whereas in the 60s only Dad worked to raise 2-3 children. So much for those technological gains reaching the working man.

A trend Schwab accurately recognized early on was that customers were beginning care more about the “experience” (ala Apple store as an experience) than the actual product. I think this is the thin end of the wedge when it comes to “you will own nothing and be happy.” Cars as a service, houseing as a service, everything as a service where the service is an “experience”.

On the front of neuroscience, which is to be used to make us more productive and provide a better work-life balance, there is no mention of straight up using it as hyper propaganda/brainwashing. Later an example is given where in an experiment at MIT depressed mice (I would be interested in knowing what that constitutes - not knocking it completely, actually interested) were “treated” by having happy memories triggered. Two things come to mind when I read this. First is, why are we not treating the root cause of the massive increase in depression instead of masking it? I think it is fairly obvious at this point that the increase in depression comes from several prominent modern world factors:

Secondly, if a technology exists to be able to alter your mood by triggering memories, could this technology be used to pacify someone completely? Could it be used to trigger fear? Hate? Love? This sounds like an utterly dystopian nightmare to me.

“Analysis provided by sensors placed on assets enables their constant monitoring and proactive maintenance and, in doing so, maximizes their utilization.”

Vaguely reading between the lines… assets = humans.

Everything will be a service (You will own nothing and be happy).

Long-distance truckers supposedly would rather pay by the mile for tires rather than simply buying them. The Tire companies would monitor the tires and offer end-to-end service. This is, unironically, tires as a service.

The ‘you will own nothing and be happy’ is doubled down at the consumer level:

An increasing number of consumers no longer purchase and own physical objects, but rather pay for the delivery of the underlying service which they access via a digital platform. It is possible, for example, to get digital access to billions of books via Amazon’s Kindle Store, to play almost any song in the world via Spotify, or to join a car-sharing enterprise that provides mobility services without the need to own the vehicle.”

This is the “always in beta” philosophy of modern software that I despise. The example I’ve used many times is web browsers. They (Firefox/Chrome) are nearing version 100 as of now, but are they really better than they were a decade ago? The UI is rearranged (and I’ve never met anyone happy with this), the add-ons are managed differently, etc. The actual reading web pages hasn’t changed much. Things like HTML5 might constitute a browser update, but HTML isn’t updated frequently. In the end, I think most software development is busy-work that exists to keep people pacified in the rat race.

Power is shifting from state to non-state actors (Public-Private Partnership).

The 24-hour news cycle puts pressure on leaders to comment or act immediately to events, reducing the time available for arriving at measured, principled and calibrated responses.

This constant churn of news also serves as a memory hole. In a few days the “old” news is forgotten by most.

Decentralized payment (ala bitcoin)

“The countries and regions that succeed in establishing tomorrow’s preferred international norms in the main categories and fields of the new digital economy 5G communications, the use of commercial drones, the internet of things, digital health, advanced manufacturing and so on) will reap considerable economic and financial benefits. In contrast, countries that promote their own norms and rules to give advantages to their domestic producers, while also blocking foreign competitors and reducing royalties that domestic companies pay for foreign technologies, risk becoming isolated from global norms, putting these nations at risk of becoming the laggards of the new digital economy.42”

Norms are what the majority is doing, not what is best. You could argue that those nations to protect their internal norms might very well be the best places to live, assuming you want those norms.

“Redefining individual identities: Individuals used to identify their lives most closely with a place, an ethnic group, a particular culture or even a language. The advent of online engagement and increased exposure to ideas from other cultures mean that identities are now more fungible than previously. People are now much more comfortable with carrying and managing multiple identities.

“Redefining family identity: Thanks to the combination of historical migration patterns and low-cost connectivity, family structures are being redefined. No longer bound by space, they often stretch across the world, with constant family dialogue, reinforced by digital means. Increasingly, the traditional family unit is being replaced by the trans-national family network.

These two quotes are part and parcel to the elimination of nations/cultures at the highest level and families/individuals at the lowest.

James Giordano, a neuroethicist at Georgetown University Medical Center, “The brain is the next battlespace.”51

What a joke. Aquino wrote From PSYOP to MindWar - The Psychology of Victory in 1980 and I think there were a few earlier works detailing the same ideas.

The appendix lists lots of negative impact in addiction/escapism with digital connectedness.

Some of the ideas touched on include:

One major negative, that at least is mentioned repeatedly is there will be an almost a total destruction of privacy and total centralized control.

There are three “shifts” that I want to focus on here, but all of them are interesting to read through.

Shift 16: Bitcoin and the Blockchain

The tipping point: 10% of global gross domestic product (GDP) stored on blockchain technology

By 2025: 58% of respondents expected this tipping point to have occurred

Positive impacts

Bitcoin is listed with literally no negatives. I thought globalists hated bitcoin?!

Shift 18: Governments and the Blockchain

control over monetary policy.

it creates the ability for new taxing mechanisms to be built into the blockchain itself (e.g. a small transaction tax).

Shift 23: Neurotechnologies 104

neuroscience to monitor and manipulate the brain

Again, instead of treating the cause of depression we gloss over the symptoms (with literal brain manipulation).

Table of Contents


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Chapter 01: The Fourth Industrial Revolution

1.1 Historical Context

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1.2 Profound and Systemic Change

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Chapter 02: Drivers

2.1 Megatrends

2.1.1 Physical

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– autonomous vehicles – 3D printing – advanced robotics – new materials

2.1.2 Digital

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2.1.3 Biological

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2.2 Tipping Points

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Table 1: Tipping points expected to occur by 2025

Chapter 03: Impact

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3.1 Economy

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3.1.1 Growth

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3.1.2 Employment

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3.1.3 The Nature of Work

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3.2 Business

3.2.1 Customer Expectations

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3.2.2 Data-Enhanced Products

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3.2.3 Collaborative Innovation

3.2.4 New Operating Models

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Box B: Environmental Renewal and Preservation

3.3 National and Global

3.3.1 Governments

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Box C: Agile Governance Principles in an Age of Disruption

3.3.2 Countries, Regions and Cities

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Box D: Urban Innovations

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3.3.3 International Security

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Box E: Mobility and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

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Box F: Emerging Technologies Transforming International Security

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3.4 Society

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3.4.1 Inequality and the middle class

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3.4.2 Community

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3.5 The Individual

3.5.1 Identity, Morality and Ethics

Box H: On the Ethical Edge

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3.5.2 Human Connection
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3.5.3 Managing Public and Private Information

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The Way Forward

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Appendix: Deep Shift

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Shift 1: Implantable Technologies

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Shift 2: Our Digital Presence

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Shift 3: Vision as the New Interface

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Shift 4: Wearable Internet

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Shift 5: Ubiquitous Computing

Shift 6: A Supercomputer in Your Pocket

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Figure II: Countries with Higher Smart Phone Usage than PC (March 2015)

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Shift 7: Storage for All

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Shift 8: The Internet of and for Things

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Shift 9: The Connected Home

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Shift 10: Smart Cities

Shift 11: Big Data for Decisions

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Shift 12: Driverless Cars

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Shift 13: Artificial Intelligence and Decision-Making

Shift 14: AI and White-Collar Jobs

Shift 15: Robotics and Services

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Shift 16: Bitcoin and the Blockchain

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Shift 17: The Sharing Economy

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Shift 18: Governments and the Blockchain

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Shift 19: 3D Printing and Manufacturing

Shift 20: 3D Printing and Human Health

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Shift 21: 3D Printing and Consumer Products

Shift 22: Designer Beings 103

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