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Preparing for a fourth industrial revolution

Feb 07,2017
Innovative technologies like artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT) and robots are integrated into existing industries and make smart cars, smart homes and smart factories possible. Quality jobs are created, and convenience of living and efficiency of social systems are maximized. 3D printers and e-commerce can become new growth ladders for small and medium-sized companies in developing nations. Development of new energy industries will allow us to overcome climate change.

What is the future of the fourth industrial revolution? I attended the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Manufacturing as a discussion panelist from Jan. 17 to 20 and discussed various scenarios of the fourth industrial revolution, expected risk factors and ways to overcome them. Firstly, I argued that key technologies such as AI, IoT and robots should be integrated into manufacturing, service and agricultural industries to improve productivity. Moreover, outdated regulations that hinder creation of new industries and decrease of jobs as a result of technology innovation should be coped with.

I shared three policy directions that the Korean government is promoting. The first is regulatory reform with negative regulations to encourage creation of new industries. Secondly, research and development funding, manpower and infrastructure should be concentrated on fields with comparative advantage. Thirdly, a joint platform encompassing suppliers, users and financial companies should be created for R&D, standardization and initial market creation.

The World Economic Forum highly regards Korea’s policies and decided to include Korea’s example in the ongoing evaluation of responses for the industrial revolution as a case study. Furthermore, Korea is asked to be the “champion” of small businesses and lead related discussions. Also, Korea is jointly hosting a forum with the World Economic Forum this year on the fourth industrial revolution and the future of manufacturing sector.

The Davos Forum was a valuable time to discuss the future of the fourth industrial revolution with global leaders. Yet, another big outcome was the confirmation that Korea’s industrial policy is headed to the right direction. I felt the responsibility to give hopes to the citizens and businesses by accelerating policy efforts on restructuring of key industries and creation of new industries.


Joo Hyung-hwan,
Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy