Oregon State University

CS 391: Social and Ethical Issues in Computer Science

Oregon State University, College of Engineering

Chapter 9 ~ The Fourth Industrial Revolution

In this chapter, you'll explore the good intentions humans have to use technology for the betterment of society (and how some experiments failed). You'll explore how robots, crowdsourcing, and blockchain may help or hinder the economies of the future. And you'll explore initiatives to help social structures evolve.

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Explore Topics: the Future

9.1 Introduction to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

First is mechanism, water, and steam power. Second is mass production, assembly line, and electricity. Third is computerization and automation. And the fourth is cyberphysical systems.

In the mid 1700's mechanization and the steam engine heralded a new era of mass production. Just 100 years later, electricity and fossil fuel energies along with the telegraph and telephone sped up our ability to communicate and travel faster, fostering a new era of networking. Within another 100 years, we were able to computerize those networks, satiate our need for more electricity with nuclear energy and dig deeper into space as well as the microscopic with bigger and smaller technologies.

And now just 50 years later, we are at the brink of major changes again, with the advent of virtual computing and smart devices and roboticized mass production and healthcare.

With every industrial revolution, citizens revolted for fear of losing their livihoods. But after a time, they adjusted...some flourished and others perished. How will our current social structures contend with these new upheavals? This chapter explores what is happening, about to happen, and how we might prepare outselves so that less people parish and more flourish.

The World Economic Forum, whose agenda is to foster international public/private cooperation by evaluating trends to shape future technologies and governance, explains the fourth industrial revolution:

Reading List

Refer to writing instructions under each page of the template provided in step 9.5. Open articles in new tabs and add them to your bibliography tool.

9.2 The robot economy.

What does the future of "work" and "jobs" look like? Will our current robotics endeavors result in more employment opportunities and fulfill the workforce...creating a peaceful coexistence? Or, will an overabundance of robots result in increased apathy, increased poverty, and a reduction in human rights? Will robots become so intelligent that humans in their current state die out or will they evolve? Read more about what experts think about the future of work and the Singularity:

Reading List

Refer to writing instructions under each page of the template provided in step 9.5. Open articles in new tabs and add them to your bibliography tool.

9.3 Crowdsourced and blockchain economies.

If society is to use the fourth industrial revolution to the fullest, we'll need technologies that engage citizens in more fair and equitable processes, which are key aims of crowdsourced data and blockchain technologies.

Reading List

Refer to writing instructions under each page of the template provided in step 9.5. Open articles in new tabs and add them to your bibliography tool.

9.4 What we'll need to succeed.

Societies are beginning to experiment with sustainable solutions that benefit bigger chunks of citizens. Learn more about how some programs have succeeded (or failed):

Reading List

Refer to writing instructions under each page of the template provided in step 9.5. Open articles in new tabs and add them to your bibliography tool.

9.5 Set up the Template and Reading List.

Use the following template link to complete this research and writing assignment.

  1. Login to your OSU Google Account.
  2. Launch this chapter's Explore Topics Template.
  3. Do not request permission to use the file. Login to your OSU Google Account.
  4. Once you have the file open:
    1. FileMake a copy.
    2. Rename the new file so it includes your "First and Last name" in place of "Template".
    3. Move the file into a folder for this course.
  5. Add your name to the cover page.
  6. Read instructions on the cover page. When in doubt about how to write in the templates, refer back to this page for clarification.
  7. Refer to the green instructions below each page to understand what is required.
  8. The last page requires a bibliography.

9.6 Edit, download, and submit the file.

  1. Ctrlc or c Copy the bibliographic entries you made during the Explore Topics reading and research. On the last page of the template, Ctrlv or v paste in the bibliographic entries. Select the list and apply the bullet or numbered list icon. Update the font size to 14 if necessary. Add more pages if necessary.
  2. Check and correct grammar and spelling using the built-in functions.
  3. From the File menu, choose Download as PDF.
  4. Check to confirm that hyperlinks work in the new PDF file. If they do not work, then in the Assignment Commenting Box, leave a note stating which platform, operating system, and browser you used to print or download the PDF file.
  5. Copy of the file to a backup folder on your hard drive.
  6. Submit the PDF file by uploading it in the Canvas Assignment screen.
  7. Confirm that your file has uploaded by looking for the document icon in the Grades area.

Examine a Case Discussion: Eradicating Poverty

Examine a country's efforts to improve the lives of its citizens with robots, crowdsourcing, blockchain technologies, and social programs. Write/discuss from a factual and critical perspective. Analyze the initiative in relation to an ethical theory. Counter another student's analysis with more research.

Technology—no matter how well designed—is only a magnifier of human intent and capacity. It is not a substitute.

Can Technology End Poverty? by Kentaro Toyama 2010

If technology's job is to improve the lives of humans, can we say that it has met that goal? What initiatives have met the needs of the disenfranchised and undereducated, improved healthcare and access to healthy foods, or predicted catastrophes which often create extreme poverty? Initiatives across the globe have the backing of organizations dedicated to meeting similar goals. Let's take a look at their efforts.

9.7 Participate in the Group Discussion.

  1. Choose a country/initiative from the list below to examine its use of technology to eradicate poverty. Click the flag to read about an initiative and expand your research to include the country and its progress.
  2. Four days before the Due date, start writing in a word processing document to synthesize what you learned about the case. Use research, including what you find in the SmartNews feed, library journals, broadcast news, etc.
    • In paragraph 1, synthesize and cite the country's technology infrastructure. (Refer back to chapter 6's lessons about infrastructure.)
    • In paragraph 2, synthesize and cite the country’s digital economy and society based on one or more of the following sets of data:
    • In paragraph 3, synthesize and cite the country's Income inequality, Poverty rates and gap, Discriminatory family code, Social Institutions and Gender, violence against women, and/or women in politics based on one or more of the following sets of data:
    • In paragraph 4, describe and cite the initiative (click on the flag in the list of countries above to read about an initiative). How does the initiative use one or more of these technologies/methods: Blockchain, Robotics, Crowdsourcing, Early childhood technology education, Retraining/reskilling, Foreign assistance, Taxation, Universal Basic Income, Unions, Coops.
    • In paragraph 5, analyze the initiative's approach and results citing one of the ethical theories or approaches ....what are their results so far?
    • Check the word count (150+ per paragraph, not counting the author names or article titles).
    • Check the hyperlinks (they must be in article titles, law names, or theory/approach names).
    • Spellcheck, fix grammar, then Ctrlc or c to copy the paragraphs.
    • Click the Chapter 9 Examine a Case Discussion in Canvas.
    • Ctrlv or v to paste the copied text into a Reply thread (click the Reply field to activate the editing box).
    • Save your thread.
  3. Before the Due date, reply to at least one person in your group.
    • In paragraph 1, discuss additional ideas related to the analysis of the initiative. Describe and cite an article that supports your ideas.
    • Check the word count (150+ not counting the author names or article titles).
    • Save your thread.

Need Help?

Share a Google Slides file with the Instructor.

If you have questions about using the template, the research prompts, or writing conventions, you can share your file with the instructor.

  1. With your file, open, click the Sharing button at the top right of the screen.
  2. Change the settings so that only people at OSU can view the file.
  3. Copy the resulting URL/address.
    Right-click to change sharing settings.
    Change settings so that only OSU people can view. Copy the link.
  4. Paste the resulting URL into a Canvas Inbox message to the instructor (or if you have already submitted your file, provide it in the Assignment Commenting box).

Work offline without Wi-fi

If you will be out of wi-fi range, feel free to work on your files offline.

  1. Click the blue Docs icon (or orange Slides or green Sheets icon).
  2. Select the file(s) to use offline.
  3. Select the 3-dot More menu
  4. Toggle on the Available Until button.
  5. Look at the list of files to view the new Available Offline icon next to the file name.

Writing Tutors

Consult one or more of these resource for a review of the structure of your writing, grammar, and spelling. Provide the tutor with a link to the instructions as well as your project online.

NetTutor's Paper Center
Access online tutoring via Canvas. 48-hour turnaround.
OSU Online Writing Suite
Electronic feedback from home, asynchronous email consultation, or synchronous Skype consultation.
OSU Undergrad Research & Writing Studio
Drop in writing help with no wait times. Standard hours are:
Monday to Thursday → 10:00am to 10:00pm
Friday → 10:00am to 5:00pm, and
Sunday → 2:00pm to 7:00pm.
OSU Academic Integrity Tutorials
Citing sources and using TurnItIn.

Use the Service Desk if you have computer, ONID, or Canvas problems.

But first:

  1. Logout.
  2. Close the browser and relaunch it.
  3. Login to OSU.
  4. Still have problems? Contact Service Desk.

Scoring Criteria

If you have questions about how to use any of the required technologies for this lesson or what these criteria mean, please reread the relevant lessons, then ask the Instructor via the Canvas Inbox.

Check Canvas Home, Assignments, and Calendar for the most current Due date and time. The Available Until date and time constitutes a grace period, which can be used in an emergency or if you are ill.

By the end of chapter 9, these items must be included in the assignments to earn full points:

Explore Topics

  1. Fourth Industrial Revolution page includes enough detail and is properly cited.
  2. Robot Economy page includes enough detail and is properly cited.
  3. Crowdsourcing and Blockchain Economies page includes enough detail and is properly cited.
  4. What We’ll Need to Succeed page includes enough detail and is properly cited.
  5. Extra Credit: Illustration or movie explaining a computerized future concept is included with a detailed description and is properly cited with a copyright statement.
  6. Bibliography page includes a list of references (4 or more expected).
  7. Writing is free of plagiarism.
  8. Writing is free of grammar and spelling errors.

Examine a Case Discussion

  1. Discussion thread synthesizes and cites the country's technology infrastructure.
  2. Discussion thread synthesizes and cites the country’s digital economy and society.
  3. Discussion thread synthesizes and cites the country's inequalities.
  4. Discussion thread describes and cites the initiative.
  5. Discussion thread analyzes the initiative's approach and results citing one of the ethical theories or approaches.
  6. Discussion includes a reply to another student's thread with additional ideas and cites a supporting article.