Monday, October 16, 2017

Korea's current buzzword: The 4th Industrial Revolution

In South Korea these days, the media are full of references to the "fourth industrial revolution."  Every week seems to bring news of another international conference or ministry pronouncement about this revolution, as if it were an accepted reality.  In fact, it is not universally accepted, and only in South Korea is the "fourth industrial revolution" so widely discussed and accepted.
I did a bit of quick research using Google Trends.   The first graphic (click for a full size version) shows patterns of worldwide search activity on Google for "fourth industrial revolution" and "third industrial revolution" from 2010 through the present.  Note that the "third industrial revolution" is the title of a book published in 2011 by Jeremy Rifken, who himself disputes the claim that we have entered a "fourth industrial revolution."  Not coincidentally, global search activity for "third industrial revolution" peaked in 2011, when Rifken's book was published.  Similarly, searches for "fourth industrial revolution" peaked starting in January of 2016 when Klaus Schwab convened the World Economic Forum around that theme and released his short book on the subject.
However, looking at global search patterns over time is only part of the picture.  As shown in the second world map graphic (click for a full size version) which I captured while hovering over the dark red shading on South Korea, the search intensity index for Korea was 100 or highest in the world.  The next highest index was 69 in South Africa.  Interestingly, there was 0 search intensity in South Korea for "third industrial revolution."
For those of you interested in why Rifkin disagrees with Klaus Schwab's contention that we've entered a "fourth industrial revolution," I refer you to his argument in the Huffington Post.   Despite being a buzzword here in Korea, perhaps there are good reasons that it hasn't caught on all around the world.

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