Rapid, ongoing technological advancement means that the 4th Industrial Revolution is no longer some likely futuristic scenario, but rather something the world and society have already entered into and are experiencing here and now.

And while the potential impact that this will have on society is exciting in terms of the endless opportunities it will present, there is unfortunately no clear roadmap to guide us in ensuring technology is harnessed solely for the betterment of mankind and our planet.

This means that those with the ability to help shape our future are faced with a tremendous responsibility to ensure that technology never becomes an end in itself. Here, preparing for the immense opportunities and disruptive challenges that will ultimately present themselves will be critical in ensuring future generations derive maximum benefit from the rapid technological advancement that is characterising this modern day ‘revolution’.

Following the ‘What’s Next’ Conference hosted by Monash South Africa and Standard Bank in 2017, one of the key outcomes to emanate from conference discussions was the recognition of the importance of all sectors of society considering the best way forward in approaching the 4th Industrial Revolution.

This is an approach where the end-goal is betterment of self and others and ultimately jointly working towards achieving a technologically well-balanced future society. That being said achieving such a balanced society requires an understanding of the push and pull factors that are working together to create it.

The push is by business, government, education providers and civil society to leverage innovation to deliver on their responsibilities more successfully, or compete more effectively. Then there is the pull by mankind towards a new innovation-led society bringing with it the new reality of Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and the ‘Internet of Things’.

It is at this important intersection where technology and humanity meet that remaining mindful of our social context and responsibility becomes critical.