Why the 4th Industrial Revolution Will Need a Resilient, Internet-Less Society

"Soon, you will not see the internet." Some faces in the audience at Davos last week looked blank, even disappointed, but it's a statement I stand by.


The internet-less society describes a vision for the UK, where not just people are connected through 4G mobile, wi-fi, and ultrafast broadband, but the very products that we utilise every day on one overarching frequency. So rest assured, the internet isn't to be abolished, but instead will become seamless in our lives and physical environments.

This will create incredible data, empowerment for communities and an ability to utilise resources more wisely. What I didn't say is that it will also create unprecedented and unpredictable risks.

We cannot hope to know where the big shocks or disruptions will come from, so resilience is key. Centralised power is an easy target so we need to organise ourselves differently, we need to lead differently. We need to create resilience within our environment - both social and physical.

The type of floods we have seen in Cumbria, Ireland and Scotland are unprecedented and require social resilience as well as physical resilience of infrastructure on a previously unparalleled scale. Our unpredictable, yet more connected world will require us to design our physical infrastructure differently, and resilience is our most basic requirement. But this is not about individuals, but instead a need to strengthen our social systems and empower communities.

Ensuring people have access to the information they need to make informed decisions in the moment is crucial. People need to be confident that they can also depend on their neighbours, their physical and virtual communities, for help.

Take this thinking a step further and people will need to be able to depend on the resilience of accessories they use in their everyday lives. Their car, the utilities used in their homes, all must communicate with each other and manage the complex world around them, reflecting their needs and values, and providing transparency at all stages to better understand the provenance of goods and services and their associated impact.

This is the 4th Industrial Revolution; the invisible internet of things that builds strong communities and transforms our lives for an exciting, and more sustainable, new world.