The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is the fourth major industrial era since the initial Industrial Revolution of the 18th century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres, collectively referred to as cyber-physical systems. It is marked by emerging technology breakthroughs in a number of fields, including robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, the Internet of Things, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), fifth-generation wireless technologies (5G), additive manufacturing/3D printing and fully autonomous vehicles. World Economic Forum, has associated it with the second machine age in terms of the effects of digitization and artificial intelligence (AI) on the global economy, but added a broader role for advances in biological technologies. These technologies are disrupting almost every industry in every country. And the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.
Schwab sees as part of this revolution "emerging technology breakthroughs" in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, quantum computing and nanotechnology. The fourth wave of the industrial revolution is expected to see the heavy implementation of several emerging technologies with a high potential of disruptive effects