All Industries That Can Be Automated, Will Be In Five Years
If that headline made you ponder the rapidly approaching near future then buckle up and get ready. During my recent conversation with investors about the current state of Robotics and Industrial 4.0, a common theme shined through the conversation, “automation.” For most, this can be a terrifying concept to grasp for others it can mean a great deal of opportunity — Vadim Tarasov, Gary Fowler, Keith Kee, and I break down both sides of this to ready you in any case.
Since the late 18th century we’ve seen four major waves of what is referred to as “Industrial Revolutions” where technology drives massive changes in human behavior, consumption, and overall production of goods. For context, the First Revolution was lead by steam, coal, and water. This combination brought to market steam engines which would enable large scale manufacturing of goods and products, such as textiles. The Second Revolution was about the invention of electricity and mass production leading to the automobile. Then came the what many of us are most familiar with, the Third Revolution that welcomed computers and digital systems giving way to globalization. Now we’ve entered the Fourth Revolution to Industrial 4.0. The World Economic Forum (WEF) which coined the phrase, defines this next era as the merging of the capabilities of both humans and machines. Plainly stated, if the previous revolutions or eras brought us steam, electricity, and digital systems this is the era will connect and automate everything in ways we’ve only yet witnessed thanks to science fiction. Think artificial intelligence (A.I), genome editing (CRISPR), biometrics, renewable energy, 3D printing (products, consumables, medical, etc.), autonomous vehicles (A.V.), blockchain, digital currencies, mixed realities (AR/VR) and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Keeping with the current pace of digitization throughout industries and regions around the world, this next era is a top priority for all. For instance, Asia, particularly China has made this a part of the country’s strategic efforts in the most recent 13th five-year plan, even going as far as destination its Greater Bay Area, 11 major industrial cities with +70M people and more than $1.5 Trillion in GDP as the hub for such efforts.
Q: What are you seeing that so important around Robotics right now, that others may not be as an investor?
Vadim: It’s not precisely robotics, but it actually started with the first major investment I did. It was an unmanned aircraft company that develops small and rather converts airplanes into UAVs, helicopters, and as all sorts of large scale unmanned aircraft for all types of purposes. While great, this presented a change of processes for companies, as only the flight is fully autonomous, but then recharging it, making sure the delivery and pickup of the payload are autonomous, all of these things are major hassles. So to better understand them, I started looking at things that are missing within the ecosystem and it turns out there is not a lot, but there are some, maybe even many small, but vital things, which basically stop otherwise a fully autonomous process. So I started basically investing little by little in things, which currently hold up the full automation. And with this, you can disrupt any number of industries, logistics, inspections, you name it, pretty much. Anything you want. So that’s how it happened.
Q: What are you seeing as advancements or growth areas in Industrial 4.0?
Gary: The key is really how do we make systems react in a responsive way, in a cooperative way within the same workspace? How do we make them intelligent? How do we make them so they can make decisions and, and on their own the right kind of decisions? And we’re not there yet today. Tt’s coming. And it’s coming very, very quickly because of technologies involving dramatically. Robots need to get smarter to make any decisions on their own, and the decisions need to be as we’ve talked about before, there’s got to be some morality, some compassion involved. There’s got to be some of those beliefs when it's in the system, whether it’s a chip or the training sets that we use, and that’s going to be critically important.
For more insights and the full unedited conversation on VCTV, check out the video below.
*Note, some edits have been made for transcription and context. The video discussion is unedited.*