A new industrial revolution is taking place. The fourth one, in case you wondered how many others came and went under our noses.

Industrial Revolution 4.0 is not one thing. It is more of a combination of technologies and processes aiming for more efficient, transparent and decentralised production.

This is the key word to understand 4.0: decentralisation.

Originally called Industrie 4.0 and conceived as a German Government initiative to make local industry adopt so-called “smart” technology into its processes, the objective was to gain a competitive edge over the rest of the world.

Soon, though, engineers and developers looking for ways to implement these changes came to realise that the technology available to make industrial processes “smarter” pointed towards sharing, connecting, opening, and therefore decentralising processes.

If Germany was to lead Industry 4.0, they would need to collaborate and make the advancements available to the rest of the world.

As mentioned before, this revolution is a combination of technology and processes. From the first group, we have solutions such as Internet of Things (IoT, mainly sensors that gather and share information through the internet), blockchain, smart contracts, artificial intelligence, automation, and gamification. Most of these tech things have been available for a while now. Industry 4.0 looks for ways to integrate them into systems and apply new processes to make the most out of them.

The processes using the technology now face a dilemma: how to decentralise information –which enhances transparency, user participation and efficiencies— without compromising data privacy and cybersecurity. We have seen blockchain crowdfunding initiatives collect funds from the public, only to have them syphoned out by hackers.

Perhaps minor teething issues in the fast and irreversible way towards an Industry 4.0 world.

Let us try to understand what this revolution is by means of a foody illustration.

The ingredients were there, the restaurant was there too, we just needed a creative chef to mix the food in a nicer and more efficient way, starting new cooking methods and recipes in the process. The objective? To connect with the customers in a better way. To make happy customers who eat healthier, know exactly what they are having, pay less, and become more engaged with the whole experience. They could even cook some of these things at home if they wished to.

The way these new ingredients for the Industry 4.0 potluck combine with each other is mostly in an experimental phase right now. For this reason, international events such as the combined AI, IoT and Blockchain Conference taking place in Amsterdam this week bring different experts from these disciplines together, to share ideas and try to collaborate.

Industry 4.0 chefs meet Industry 4.0 producers. We shall keep you posted!

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