It's funny that the idea of “Industry 4.0” is not heard much in the United States. It seems to be strictly a European thing — although of course, now you have things like Wittmann 4.0, and KraussMaffei's own version, and this does dilute any idea of Industry 4.0.
But OK we get it. Connect the factory and make it easy to manage the data.
Let's recap the earlier manufacturing epochs: Industry 1.0 was the first industrial revolution in the 1700s; the steam engine and other breakthroughs. Industry 2.0 saw mass production beginning in the 1800s, at world-famous textile mills, steel making and railroads.
What was Industry 3.0? Advancements that began in the 1960s and continue today: automation, ever-more electronics and process controls.
Really, doesn't it seem like Industry 4.0 is just more of a natural improvement of 3.0?
But I have heard 4.0 people talking about “lights-out manufacturing.” Machines and robots do all the work, and nobody is there. Many engineering types see fully automated factories as a nirvana.
And so what will be Industry 5.0? It could be something unholy. But it seems to be happening today, in the news: Robots have replaced 60,000 Chinese workers at Foxconn's plant in Kunshan. Here is headline on a story in Fast Company: Siemens Is Building An Army Of Collaborative Spider Robot Factory Workers.
Yes, each word in the main headline is capitalized. The story spells out Siemens' efforts to get autonomous robots that figure out how to work together.
This is what we must remain aware of, and maybe we should be afraid. My autoworker dad made this comment: “Robots are not going to buy a car.” But, in the next industrial revolution, what if you depend on robots for your food? Some momentary free movement?
Industry 5.0 could be where robots run all production, and the humans are locked in cages down in the ground. The top would stick out for fresh air. The robots throw in some food pellets, maybe some meat comes down the chute.
If the robots need human labor to perform grunt work, they open the gate. You can get some extra food. Humans regress to a muscular and more basic past, and we have to tell stories to keep the memories alive.
But you know what? I'm in my mid-50s, so as I tell people about this nightmare future, I say to relax, many of us will be dead by the time Industry 5.0 comes around.
What about our children? They can be pacified when the robots distribute some technological devices. Will they use technology together to rise up against technology run amuck? Or will they make Instagram videos and talk about their latest school crush?
Or this one: Will the robots have already known how to read and understand every single word of the tweets and the vids and all of it?
It could be a great challenge for our future generation. But then I think about it. I'll be dead and it won't be my problem. Just start working out, our children, and don't fall in love with technology over other people, especially your family.