Digitalisation marks the dawn of a fourth industrial age. The third industrial revolution, characterised by the advent of computers and industrial robots in industry, is now being superseded by a fourth industrial revolution known as “Industrie 4.0”. This term and the concept behind it were conceived by acatech. Today, it has become a globally recognised vision of the future of industry.
The term ‘Industrie 4.0’ was coined during a discussion at acatech’s Berlin office. Today, it is used all over the world – they even write Industrie 4.0 with an “ie” on the end in China! The Industrie 4.0 Maturity Index developed by acatech is an instrument designed to guide companies on the path towards the digital future.
acatech President Dieter Spath
Smart Services made in Germany
The Internet of Things is rapidly transforming both our work and our everyday lives and redefining the rules for businesses. The future belongs to platform markets where customers order customised bundles of products and services known as “smart services”. For example, a customer might use a mobility platform to book the optimal combination of carsharing, public transport and flights. Rather than buying a car or public transport tickets, customers buy mobility.
While data forms the basis of smart services, artificial intelligence (AI) opens up new, intelligent ways of using this data. The fact that artificial intelligence learns from large quantities of data means that AI and smart services mutually enhance each other. Artificial intelligence is transforming many areas of our work and everyday lives – AI is behind intelligent self-driving cars and smart buildings, for example, and is also driving advances in the field of medicine:
When imaging a broken collarbone, AI-based medical devices such as MRI or CT scanners can also provide a reliable indication of whether there are any other potential medical issues in the same area. Moreover, they can do so instantly and at no extra cost.
acatech President Karl-Heinz Streibich, Chair of the Plattform Lernende Systeme
Bringing it all together in the Plattform Lernende Systeme
Launched by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) at the initiative of acatech in 2017, the Plattform Lernende Systeme is a forum for dialogue and cooperation that brings together expertise from across Germany in the field of artificial intelligence. Some 200 experts from science, industry and civil society collaborate in the Plattform Lernende Systeme.
New horizons: Blockchain is more than Bitcoin
Blockchain is also clearly emerging as a key future technology field with the potential to fundamentally transform financial systems, energy markets and public administration. As a result, blockchain was chosen as the topic of the first publication in the acatech HORIZONS series, in which the Academy explores important technology fields that are already looming large on the horizon, but where there is still some uncertainty about their potential impacts.