#SA4IR to help SA master fourth industrial revolution

Professor Adam Habib (Wits) launching #SA4IR, with (behind from left): professor John Hendricks (Fort Hare), Sipho Maseko (Telkom) and professor Babu Paul (UJ). (Photograph by Wits University)
Professor Adam Habib (Wits) launching #SA4IR, with (behind from left): professor John Hendricks (Fort Hare), Sipho Maseko (Telkom) and professor Babu Paul (UJ). (Photograph by Wits University)

Telkom, Wits University, University of Johannesburg and University of Fort Hare yesterday launched #SA4IR, a partnership to explore how the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) could shape the future of South Africa.

It seeks to build an inclusive developmental future for all South Africans by stimulating a national dialogue and developing a national agenda.

The partnership will explore the impact of the 4IR on the economy and new digital economy, higher education and the future of work, inequality, citizens, society and the state.

"The 4IR is transforming the world economy and dialogue around its implementation is imperative to ensure South Africa's future economic participation," said Sipho Maseko, CEO of Telkom.

"When we consider the 4IR, it's important that we are also cognisant that our decisions are narrowing the current digital divide. Lowering the cost of access to broadband will be an important way that marginalised groups can gain access to the economy of the future," he noted.

"We need to train scholars to deal with the challenges of the 21st Century, some of which we may not yet have encountered," said professor Adam Habib, Wits vice-chancellor and principal.

"We need to work across sectors to develop the technology required for us to leapfrog across eons of poverty, unemployment and inequality, and in so doing to create a new world order that prioritises humanity before profits and power."

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, University of Johannesburg vice-chancellor and principal, added: "The 4IR is changing our political, economic and social lives. Those who master the means and ways of the 4IR shall thrive. Those who fail to master this revolution shall be thrown into the dustbin of backwardness."

"The 4IR is meant to be a game-changer for South Africa's current and future economic growth, for all imaginable sectors of human activity and citizen-centricity," noted professor Sakhela Buhlungu, Fort Hare vice-chancellor and principal.

"As public institutions, we need to train the next generation of highly skilled experts and leaders to assist us to harness the potential that this revolution is going to deliver."

#SA4IR will interrogate what impact the changes sparked by the 4IR will have on human rights, legal and moral matters, and on fundamental transformations in human consciousness and identity, and what this will mean for South Africa.

It will also investigate how transformative technologies, such as artificial intelligence, big data, automation, crypto-currencies, and augmented, virtual and mixed realities will shape new economic, social and political orders.

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