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Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Investors worldwide are fretting about global demand conditions, fearing, for example, a potential hard landing in China and the repercussions of falling oil prices. But, while these worries are well founded, they often neglect human ingenuity's unparalleled ability to deliver better living standards and investment opportunities.

LONDON – Technological innovation has long triggered diametrically opposed reactions: awe of new possibilities for some; for others, fear of disruptive change. But most of us don’t even realize what is happening. We take change for granted.

Human ingenuity is far too little recognized or appreciated, particularly in financial markets. Investors obsess about more pedestrian concerns: fears about a hard landing in China, the repercussions of falling oil prices, and the risk that some shock could tip a fragile world economy into renewed recession or deflation.

Obviously, worries about global demand conditions are not unfounded – surely the last thing the world economy needs now is renewed stress. Yet, for all our angst about excessive debt and policy inadequacy, nothing is as important as human ingenuity for delivering improved living standards and investment opportunities. Indeed, the advent of new technologies holds out the promise of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, the theme of this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.

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