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SAN FRANCISCO – Les nouvelles technologies se répandent si vite que les sociétés ont aujourd’hui des difficultés à absorber leur impact. Parce que leurs conséquences touchent à tous les domaines, depuis la nature du travail à jusqu’au sens même de la condition humaine, les changements technologiques pourraient nous submerger si nous ne parvenions pas à collaborer pour les comprendre et les diriger.

Des pans entiers de l’activité sont redéfinis voire créés ex nihilo, grâce aux prodigieux développements qu’ont connu l’intelligence artificielle, la robotique, l’Internet des objets, les véhicules autonomes, l’impression en 3D, les nano- et les bio-technologies, les sciences de la matière, le stockage de l’énergie et l’informatique quantique. Au Forum économique mondial, nous avons donné le nom de « quatrième révolution industrielle » à cette vague d’innovations, car elle changera de fond en comble notre manière de vivre, de travailler et de communiquer avec nos semblables.

La première révolution industrielle est née des machines qui permettaient de d’utiliser la force motrice de la vapeur et d’égrener le coton. Elle s’accompagna de développements socio-politiques historiques comme l’urbanisation, la massification de l’enseignement et la mécanisation de l’agriculture. Avec l’électrification et la production de masse, la deuxième révolution industrielle a engendré des formes de travail et des modèles sociaux entièrement nouveaux. Puis avec l’avènement de l’informatique et des télécommunications instantanées, la troisième révolution industrielle, qui s’est produite au cours des cinq dernières décennies, a relié presque tous les points de la planète et rétréci l’espace et le temps.

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