The role of language in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)

Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) (2021)

MP4 Video; Size: 318MB; Duration: 1:08:22

Please cite as: Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), (2021). The role of language in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). [Online] Available at:

Webinar hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) on 4 November 2021. Presented by Dr Rethabile Mawela, Rhodes University, South Africa. The 4IR as a concept can only be meaningful if articulated in a language that is familiar to the reader. The concept 4IR, for instance suggests that there were three other revolutions before it, and that each ended when the next one began. Language lands itself at the centre of both the articulation and analyses of these revolutions and what they mean to society. The 4IR has seen the developments in artificial intelligence, genetics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, biotechnology and smart systems, to name but a few that are amplifying and supporting each other. This has lay a very strong foundation for a more comprehensive and all-inclusive revolution than ever imagined. The introduction of smart- homes, farms, grids, and cities make service delivery to be easier, faster, and efficient even in dealing with problems beguiling the system. It allows people to share the economy and monetize everything. While there are positive gains, there are negatives as well. The patterns of production, consumption and employment created by the 4IR pose major challenges that require adaptation and adoption of new ways of doing things. The 4IR brings with it broader socio-economic, demographic, and geopolitical drivers of change whose intersectionalities influence and intensify each other. There is a need for industry adjustment and personal skills development to prepare for the opportunities availed by this change and to avoid career dislocation. To fully participate in the 4IR, individuals need to access information in a language they feel comfortable with and competent in to engage and understand. In this webinar we will initiate a conversation of language as an enabler and a positive supporter of 4IR through deep understanding of text that supports the creation of meaning and personalisation of information for meaningful involvement. The opposite is also true - technology and innovation can be used to understand and master language. This webinar explores the extent to which language is a boon or bain to the 4IR.

Publisher: Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
Peer review status: Non-Peer Reviewed