Knowledge is Power: Why the Future is not just about the Technology

As machines take over routine tasks, we will need talent more than ever – to focus on human specialities such as creativity and experience.

  • If we are to rely on machine intelligence, we need to understand the two types of knowledge.
  • Understanding knowledge means we can distinguish where we want machines to do the mundane work and where we want humans to perform intuitive tasks.
  • Such an approach will be as beneficial for business as for education.

As virtual and physical worlds become increasingly interdependent, knowledge – and how we manage it – will become the secret ingredient to manage the situation. And thrive.

Virtual technologies are swiftly becoming intertwined with our physical world, and companies need to adapt. But that doesn’t simply mean replacing humans with robots or relying on artificial intelligence (AI) to make all of our decisions.

This is because technology, though powerful, is just part of the equation. In fact, human intelligence will be one of the most valuable assets in today’s Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR), and companies may flounder if they fail to strike the right balance of automated technology and human insights.

This comes down to knowledge management. When leading teams of both humans and machines, executives need to understand the two major types of knowledge – implicit and tacit – and how to utilise each type best.

How have we got here?

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution creates a world in which virtual and physical systems of manufacturing cooperate with each other in a flexible way at the global level,”wroteFounder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab in his 2016 book The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In the same book, he coined the very term, writing: “We are at the beginning of a revolution that is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and relate to one another.”

Like the previous three industrial revolutions, the FIR will fundamentally change the way we live and how businesses operate. Preceding revolutions have brought us everything from steam engines and mechanisation, to electricity and mass production. Most recently, the third added digitalisation and computers into the mix.

The FIR it is already inspiring seismic shifts across many industries. Critically, it will see the convergence of our physical experiences with rapidly advancing technologies, such as AI, machine learning, virtual and augmented reality, robotics, bio-engineering and cloud computing

It will blur the boundaries between the online and offline, the technological and the biological – think real-time automated speech recognition, disaster rescue drones, genome editing, and AI-powered customer service chatbots.

While many describe the FIR as a virtual revolution, that’s only half the story. At its heart, the FIR is also a knowledge revolution – going forward, we will rely on a combination of human and machine intelligence to create truly transformative businesses, services and products.

Do you really know what knowledge is?

To succeed during the FIR, business leaders first need to understand how knowledge works. In a nutshell, there are two types: explicit and tacit.

Explicit knowledge can be easily articulated, quantified, codified, shared and programmed. For example: company manuals, research reports, white papers, how-to videos and data sets. They are programmed into routine tasks and procedures, and then assigned to machines.