This session at the WEF was an insightful discussion on how the fourth industrial revolution is changing the face of human behaviour, presenting opportunities for enterprises and impacting economies. Speaking on the topic, Anand Mahindra, Chairman and MD, Mahindra Group, cited an example of a group of girls on a social night out who were busy on their phones through the evening, probably posting about having a great time. His second example was about a group of fighter pilots making a video on the blips on the radar screen that indicated that an enemy’s life had been taken. In the first incident, a human interaction was recorded but didn’t actually exist. In the second, human life was reduced to a dot on a radar screen.
He stated that the fourth industrial revolution had made the word “Remote” a big part of our vocabulary, from remote sensors to remote calibration and how it could pose a problem for humankind. He spoke about how we communicate remotely, yet we have lost our essence of remaining connected. He suggested that instead of Artificial intelligence, we perhaps need to possibly create Artificial Empathy to become more human and sensitive again!
He spoke about how he used to be puzzled when people feared technology when evidence is actually to the contrary: Technology helps mankind. Drawing on a reference to Star Wars, he said that it depends on whether we want to be a Jedi or a Sith. Do we harness technology for good or evil is the question.
He also spoke lucidly on the impact on jobs, in the context of India becoming a rising economy, likely to surpass China in the next few years. He spoke about how we are falling into a trap of linear thinking while in reality, 65% of the Indian population was still in villages. With technologies like 3D printers, even small forge shops could upgrade to become mechanical outlets. Our own Gandhi-ji and British Economist E. F. Schumacher championed Small is beautiful. The Fourth Industrial Revolution would be the bridge that brings alive that vision once more. Technology will power jobs in the smallest of units, up-skill workers, cut out intermediaries and make us smarter and more efficient in our operations. It would prevent the need for large-scale migration, avoiding congestion of cities that struggle to deal with the congestion
Finally, he touched upon the changing responsibilities of business, which are no longer limited to just supporting NGOs with a percentage of revenue. Raising the quality of life is the biggest business opportunity going. It's a win-win for all. Real opportunity to make the change is when you do well, for yourself, and do good for the society at the same time - reflective of the RISE philosophy at the Mahindra Group. Creating “for profit” social ventures and sustainable businesses is the future of philanthropy.