FEATURE: Earthquakes and the Fourth Industrial Revolution or 4IR

People must be educated about earthquakes in order not to panic. The recent Mindanao tremors is a natural phenomenon that happened simultaneously not only in Mindanao but also in other parts of the world like Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and even the USA.

It was there from time immemorial and will be here as a natural occurrence as long as we live in this imperfect earth. It has nothing to do with religion, politics or economics. It cannot even be predicted, although there are attempts to forecast it. But there is one thing on the horizon, and we can talk about it now, the new advancements in science and technology - the fourth Industrial Revolution or 4IR. Do we have a chance, or has time arrived that aside from its intended economic benefits, the new 4IR technologies will give man the power to predict earthquakes and therefore save lives and properties?

This fourth stage of technological innovation has already happened without most of us being aware of. We have been hearing or seeing separately in movies and televisions about robots, artificial intelligence, nano technology, 3D printing, intelligent cars, internet of things and the 5th generation of wireless communication or 5G whose signals can penetrate everything including our bodies. We are creating a fusion of these technologies trying to enhance the power of man to understand nature beyond his origin through techno-human engineering.

4IR technologies are intended to help improve efficiency and effectiveness in planning and delivery of government services, in increasing volumes and quality outputs in industrial manufacturing, construction and service industries, in speeding up commerce and financial transactions towards a global moneyless economy – all for the good of mankind.

On the other hand, however, there are risks attached to technological and scientific innovations. Several of the new innovations may not produce positive impact. It may improve mass production of basic agriculture and fishery products, but they are already receiving red lights because of non-organic enrichers. Too much synthetic additives in pharmaceutical products are reportedly becoming hurtful to well-being. Transistor frequencies of the 5G wireless communications have already been seen affecting animals. But the most important debate on 4IR is: what will be the costs and the benefits to civilization of the future? And, for now, can 4IR conquer the mysteries of nature including predicting earthquakes? RRB