Recently, we often mention the term the 4.0 revolution, as well as the bright future from this revolution, but have we really understood what the 4.0 revolution is? What will we gain and what issues will we have to face when it arrives? Is our technology really ready?

What is the 4.0 Revolution?
In the 19th century, the First Industrial Revolution began with the invention of the steam engine, creating a series of machines and bringing mechanization into production. Shortly after, the Second Revolution came along with electricity, telecommunications, the invention of trains, and mass-produced goods. And by the mid-20th century, the sparks of electronics, computers, and the internet began the digital revolution, which was the Third Industrial Revolution. The inventions and infrastructure that existed in that revolution also became the basic foundations for the next revolution, the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Stemming from the concept of “Industrie 4.0” in a 2013 report by the German government. The Fourth Industrial Revolution connects embedded systems and smart manufacturing to create a technical convergence between industry, business, internal functions and processes. In other words, this revolution is blurring the lines between industries, connecting different specialties to create breakthroughs in research, development and production. And according to Klaus Schwab – a German engineer and economist, the 4.0 Revolution will take place in 3 main areas including biotechnology, digital technology and physics.

The core elements of Digital Technology in the 4.0 technology revolution will be: Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data.

In the field of biotechnology, the 4.0 Industrial Revolution focuses on research to create breakthroughs in agriculture, fisheries, pharmaceuticals, food processing, environmental protection, renewable energy, chemistry and materials. Finally, the field of Physics with next-generation robots, 3D printing, self-driving cars, new materials (graphene, skyrmions…) and nanotechnology.

Finally, there is the field of Physics with next-generation robots, 3D printing, self-driving cars, new materials (graphene, skyrmions…) and nanotechnology.

According to experts, this revolution is taking place at a rapid pace, far exceeding the previous three revolutions. This will be a great leap forward in the development process. But if we consider it in the context of Vietnam – a developing country, then it will be an opportunity but also a challenge.

How will the 4.0 revolution affect us?
As mentioned, the 4.0 Revolution is a revolution based on the infrastructure and technology foundations of the Third Revolution. For developed countries where infrastructure and technology have far surpassed, they have many advantages in this 4.0 Revolution. But in the context of Vietnam, it has only stopped at the conceptual stage, with countless difficulties and challenges ahead, before and after we join this revolution.

The 4.0 Revolution creates new technologies that will boost productivity while reducing labor. But currently, Vietnam is still a country with an abundant labor supply, provided both domestically and abroad, so technological development and reduced labor could lead us to a surplus labor situation.

The 4.0 Revolution was born to meet the labor shortage needs of countries with high technical levels and labor scarcity. Therefore, if we really participate in this revolution, we must prepare carefully for the scenario of a surplus of low-skilled common labor. Especially with over 70% of the population still in rural areas, low living standards and very low labor skills compared to most countries in the world. Moreover, this is a scientific and technological revolution, requiring labor to have a certain level of education in order to participate in the production process. With the current large number of low-skilled workers, our country faces many disadvantages in the race of the 4.0 revolution.

All revolutions are led by science and technology. This Fourth Revolution is no exception to that rule. Therefore, to assess whether a country is ready for this revolution or not, we can look at the scientific and technical level of that country itself.

In recent years, our science and technology has been developing rapidly, such as transmission capacity, with a total domestic Internet bandwidth of 3,020 Gbps and international bandwidth of 3,820 Gbps. Of this, the total bandwidth of submarine cable routes reaches 645 Gbps, and the backbone has a total of 1650 Gbps. For satellites it is 900 Mbps. However, overall, our development is still not really commensurate with our potential and commensurate with other countries in the region. And there will still be a lot of changes needed before being mentioned in this fourth revolution.

According to economic expert Le Dang Doanh, the 4.0 Revolution puts great pressure for change. “This is the impetus for innovation and restructuring. Vietnam’s economic growth model has reached its limit. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will create tremendous pressure for reform, requiring mechanisms and policies to support businesses in keeping up and seizing opportunities and overcoming challenges.”

At this point, when the 4.0 revolution has just begun, countries are almost “equal” in terms of opportunity. A developing country like Vietnam can go directly into researching and applying new technologies because these technologies do not depend on old technologies, thereby shortening the development gap. This requires the Government to make greater efforts in action rather than just stopping at speeches or seminars.