4IR will still need the human touch

Fourth industrial revolution and anti-competitive behavior
Fourth industrial revolution and anti-competitive behavior
Image: Dorothy Kgosi

The fourth industrial revolution has the potential to increase business growth but not without human collaboration.

This was said by international software powerhouse S4 Integration’s marketing manager Gideon Smith at a business breakfast hosted by Standard Bank in Port Elizabeth yesterday.

The 4IR has become the latest buzzword, leaving many people in the manufacturing and automotive industries wondering if the revolution means robotics taking over from humans.

“We should embrace industry 4.0 because it is here to help us as mankind, and it is only at the brink because of the misunderstanding and people are kicking it down,” Smith said.

“If we can really understand what the capabilities are and what we can do with this, we would all realise the potential is endless.”

He said the biggest misconception was that robotics would  to take over people’s jobs, but he explained that artificial intelligence should and could be used collaboratively with humans to enhance decision making.

“China was able to build a hospital in eight days to fight the coronavirus, but they still needed to protect their people and they did that by using robots.

“Robots did not take away people’s work but were used to help people during an epidemic.

“Robots were able to dispense medication and take people’s temperatures, keeping the hospital infection-free while still providing the necessary services,” he said.

Smith also made an example of drones being used in the health sector to distribute and deliver medication to rural and far-flung areas where there were no access roads.

“We are now taking medical goods and delivering them via drones.

“Uber also has big dreams to use drones to help ease traffic and delays; that is being tested at the moment,” Smith said.

Standard Bank’s Ivy Strydom said the bank was ready to embrace the 4IR, and accepted  that both  digitisation h and an  understanding of artificial intelligence had to become a priority.

Standard Bank closed more than 100 of their branches nationwide last year and the move was said to be because of the growth in digital banking, which contributed to a drop in the number of customer walk-ins.

Strydom said despite the branch closures there were other opportunities to create jobs because, even during challenging economic times, there were industries that showed an incline.

“Manufacturing for us has been categorised as a growth sector and as a bank we’re open for business.

“We have implemented strategies to ensure we bring banking closer to the customer and strategies that provide solutions to help such businesses grow,” Strydom said.