4IR technologies will not necessarily generate decent work, Gillwald tells SA Science Forum

On the 11th of December 2020, RIA’S Executive Director, Dr. Alison Gillwald, addressed the virtual 2020 Science Forum South Africa (#SFSA2020) in a debate focused on the Fourth Industrial Revolution under the theme, “Disruptive technology: narrowing or widening inequality”.

The aim of the discussion was to debate “how governance of the 4IR and its disruptive technologies should be shaped to effectively address the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality”.

Dr. Gillwald presented an alternative vision and a critique of the 4IR in a presentation titled, “New Digital Deal for Africa: Beyond the rhetoric of the 4th Industrial Revolution”, which you can download below.

There is nothing inherent in so-called 4IR technologies that will necessarily result in economic growth, job creation or the empowerment of the marginalised, Dr Gillwald told the Science Forum. “Evidence from the so-called Third Industrial Revolution tells us we that should not take for granted that technology will translate into wage or productivity growth–nor will it necessarily generate ‘decent work’,” she said.

Dr. Gillwald’s presentation was based on a report commissioned for the National Planning Commission on “South Africa’s Readiness for the 4IR”.

SFSA was hosted by the Department of Science and Innovation and the session was meant to inform the South African Centre for the 4IR on frameworks for enabling recovery.