The fourth industrial revolution, really?

4IR ?

In the words of the Word Economic Fourm (2018) ‘the fourth industrial revolution is already here! ‘

“Emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies are rapidly changing how people, business, society and nations interact. Universities have a pivotal role to play. Their ability lies in three main dimensions: developing new technologies; grappling with the broader consequences of the 4IR; and educating the next generation” (WEF, 2018)

Is this the correct view?

Steve Wheeler, global Learning Innovations expert challenges the concept of the 4IR in my interview with him. He acknowledges the work of Thomas Sibel drawing on the work of Stephen Jay Gould (New Scientist article Punctuated Equilibrium).

Steve Wheeler explains punctuation is an event, or a series of events, that causes a disruption in the normal equilibrium of life such as the meteor strike that supposedly wiped out the dinosaurs, creating chaos and opening up for the establishment of a new order (Wheeler, 2019). We are now, as relayed by Steve, witnessing not the 4IR but ‘punctuated equilibrium’.

What’s your view?


Gould, S. J. (1982) ‘Punctuated Equilibrium—A Different Way of Seeing’. New Scientist 94 (Apr. 15) pp. 137-139.

Siebel, T. M. (2019) ‘Digital Transformation: Survive and Thrive in an Era of Mass Extinction‘, New York: Rosetta Books. also

WEF (2018) ‘4th Industrial Revolution ‘ [online]. Available:

Wheeler, S. (2019) ‘Digital Transformation of our world’ [blog]. Available:

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