We are entering into an era of innovation and rapid change, driven by disruptive technology. It is a new kind of technological revolution that will fundamentally change the way we live and work. In its scale, scope, and impact, this transformation, called the Fourth Industrial Revolution, will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. Previous Industrial Revolutions, radical as they may have been, were characterized by fairly sharply defined technologies: steam engine, electricity, and computing. In contrast, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, while it has intelligence information technologies at its core, is defined more by a convergence of existing industries combined with science and engineering in diverse fields, bringing out novel innovations. It is expected that the changes over the coming twenty to thirty years will far surpass the transformations that the world has experienced during the past two centuries.
In this time of innovation, driven by the unique power of convergence, we should ponder on two important questions: how should the scientists and engineers of the future be educated and what is the role of scientists and our contributions to society. Regarding education, it is clear that the paradigms of the past—education by specialty, disciplinary boundaries, and so forth—will be (if not already are) inadequate for training those who will lead and drive the Fourth Industrial Revolution. How do we train the next generation of scientists and engineers with the capabilities essential in this new era of convergence thinking, individuals who can freely work across multiple fields of study, interacting with and integrating diverse people and subjects? Regarding the role of scientists in society, it is important to note that we have received enormous support from government and society. We are grateful that scientists and engineers still retain considerable respect among our fellow citizens but we must continually earn that trust, especially by contributing to economic advancement in a more impactful way. This is especially important in the Fourth Industrial Revolution as convergence is not just defined by intellectual curiosity or as an academic exercise but by human needs and applications.
While the Fourth Industrial Revolution has had an impact even on the present, its impact will grow rapidly in the future. An incredible amount of novel technology will appear in various fields and that will significantly affect our lives. There are high expectations on scientists to lead the wave of innovation. The future belongs to those who prepare for it. Let's aim high and think how we will contribute to the society and humanity in this era of innovation.