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Leading the Middle East Into the Future

New technologies are emerging so rapidly that we are now having trouble coping with them. By affecting everything from the nature of work to what it means to be human, the latest industrial revolution could overwhelm us, unless businesses, governments, and civil societies collaborate to understand and manage it.

SAN FRANCISCO – New technologies are emerging so rapidly that societies in the Middle East are now having trouble coping with their impact. By affecting everything from the nature of work to what it means to be human, technological changes could prove overwhelming if we do not collaborate to understand and manage them.

Around the globe, entire industries are being redefined and created from scratch, owing to groundbreaking developments in artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing. We at the World Economic Forum have dubbed this wave of innovation the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” because it is fundamentally changing the way we live, work, and relate to one another. And these changes will be felt as much in Cairo, Dubai, and Riyadh as in New York, Frankfurt, and Hong Kong.

New technologies such as the steam engine and the cotton mill launched the First Industrial Revolution, which was accompanied by historic sociopolitical developments such as urbanization, mass education, and mechanized agriculture. Thanks to electrification and mass production, the Second Industrial Revolution introduced entirely new social models and forms of work. And with the advent of digital technology and instant telecommunications, the Third Industrial Revolution, playing out over the past five decades, has connected the planet and shrunk time and space.

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