What is SOCIETY 4.0? | Bob de Wit | TBCY
Welcome to another episode of The Brand Called You. A vodcast and podcast show that brings you leadership lessons, knowledge, experience and wisdom from hundreds of successful individuals from around the world. I'm your host, Ashutosh Garg and today I'm privileged and delighted to welcome a very, very well known academician, author, strategic thinker from the Netherlands Professor Bob De Wit. Bob, welcome to show. Thank you very much nice to be with you. Thank you. Professor Bob De Wit is an author. He's written a book titled The society
4.0, resolving eight key issues to building a citizen society, you can see the book just behind him. He's also written a book on strategy, and we'll talk about that on some other show. He is the owner of a firm title, the strategy works. And most importantly,
he is the professor of strategic leadership at the Nyenrode Business University in the Netherlands. So, Bob, let's talk about your book, Society 4.0, which is resolving eight key issues to build a citizen society. Let's start with what are the three kinds of societies that humans have established to date? Yeah, maybe as an introduction, my field is to understand the future. I'm a strategist.
So I'm well known, well used to for 30 years to pick a weak signals, and understand what it means for the future. And eight years ago, it's occurred to me that, increasingly a number of digital technologies, but also other technologies, we're getting more prominence in the strategy and visions of organizations. That was at a time when there was a book published by Jeremy Rifkin, the third industrial revolution. And from the beginning, idea that was not correct, but I do know what it was. And in 2017, I delivered an inaugural speech and while writing that speech, I understood what was wrong with that statement. And you can see that on the title, you cannot read it, but I can share the title of that thing, which is called on the eve of a socialist revolution. So in 2017, I already predicted as a result of a number of developments in technology,
but also other developments, that society itself was going to change. Now, one that was delivering all kinds of speeches on that, so people said, you know, I don't see anything, you know, so you must be wrong. And in the beginning of 2020, then there was, you know, there was, you know what it was and I recognize that's crisis as a societal crisis as the beginning of this change. And then I decided to write this book, and to finish the book, Society 4.0. So basically, what I'm saying is that we have left the industrial society, and we have begun building a new society, which has a different kind of value creation, now 1-2-3-4, and where it come from? Well, society 1.0 was a
feudal society. That was for 1000s of years. And the main driver for economic value was land ownership. Because if you have a lot of land ownership, you could create agricultural products. So if you have land, you were rich and powerful. And if you have no land, you were poor and powerless, basically, what it does, and then at the ends of that of that society 1.0
there wasn't different kinds of economic value creation, which were straight. And well, we know that both because you're from India, you're traders. I'm from the Netherlands, we are also traders. And if I take the example of my country, the Netherlands,
we were very strategically located on the land to Europe, but also on the sea we had a notic backgrounds. So we started trading. Now, we had a lot of trade cities, and in a trade cities, the traders were getting more important than land owners. Because yeah, if you trade there's nothing here you have nothing with lands. So step by step, the Netherlands changed, but also other countries changed from land ownership to trade. So it'll be became a republic. So that's a different kind of society, from a feudal society to Republic,
from land ownership to trade, that was society 2.0 and then came the third society which began in England with the Industrial Revolution. And that was that you know with beginning of the machine, Spinning Jenny was the first machine by steam engine powered engine. Well, one machine is not changing society, two and three. or not, but at some time, the economic value creation by industrial mass production became larger than by trades. And then again, we got the revolution, Industrial Revolution. And then we were working a couple of years of building an industrial society, which was, again, different from the previous ones. Now, my point is that we have left that industrial society, and we are building and a digital society. And between societies, there's always a lot of unrest.
People have different perspectives and ideas what the best society is going to be. That was the same, you know, in the beginning of the industrial society, you had people said, you know, in this society must be on capitalism, or socialism and communism and Leninism. And Marxism, you know, all kinds of people were thinking about that society. Well, that's kind of philosopher is what I'm also. So I'm thinking about how that
future society is going to look like, which is Society 4.0 Fantastic. What a great explanation. So before I proceed any further, Bob, for our viewers and listeners, help us understand what is your definition of a citizen society? Yeah. This is a very good question. You know, in my book, I do basically two things. One is I give explanation of the time that we live in, we live between societies, has nothing to do with health, it has to do with that we live between societies. And, as always, between societies, there has been different perspectives on that future society. And in every episodes, it was a sort of struggle between a top down society and a bottom up society. So there were people who said, you know, we have to lead the country,
by the experts, by the rich and powerful, you know, and then the population has to follow, which is a sort of elite society, a top down. And bottom up is more that you make a society which good for everyone in the country for all the citizens. And the struggle that we're in right now, is that there are large companies, some of the companies are larger than most countries, not larger than India. But in the Netherlands, the large tech companies and the finance and the pharma organizations are larger than Germany, and Holland and England. So there's a power shift, and will also happen is that most of the public issues are also being resolved at the global level by NGOs, nongovernmental organizations, United Nations, and all kinds of charities and all that. Now, the thing is that these companies, I call them corporate states, because they're making the rules now, corporate states, the NGOs, United Nations, there are no democracies. So what they are saying is that what we need for the future society
is that we put the decisions, the big decisions in the hands of the elite, which is the NGOs and the large organizations and carriers and charities, that is, you know, their vision is that you make, again, a top down society, a feudal society, was this time at the global level. That is one of those societies, I call that a elite reset society, you know, with refers to the World Economic Forum, of course. And what I did in my book, is also to develop an alternative future vision on Society 4.0. So I started rethinking how can we develop a new society, which is good for everyone, for all the citizens. I call the citizen of society.
Now, and in citizen of society, and that has to do with the changing, the development of technology. On the one hand, you have to work do something at a global level. But also, the technologies make it possible to organize your society at a regional level. And that's why I call it a glocal citizens, you know, so you live local, but you also live global. A good example is my daughter, by the way, she lives in Spain at the moment. She lives in a very local community very close to nature. At the same time, she has a coaching practice on Instagram and Facebook. She works on the global level, digitally, but at the same time in a regional level. So my vision is that you build up a new society on the basis of regions.
And then you make some kind of connections and the decision at the global level. Fascinating. So, Bob, you also talk about eight key issues to build a citizen society. What are these eight issues? Yeah, what I tried to do is to distinguish what are the differences of between a elite reset society and a global citizen society? So I went to all the different topics, how you design a new citizen, one of them well there, there are a number of things. One is income distribution. And income distribution means that do you want to have a society in which most of the economic value goes to an elite or do we want to have a society which sort of short of equal for older citizens that you can live from it? So income distribution is a big issue. In the last, from the 70s, the economic value of the lowest 50% in a country has haft. So from all
the gross national products, the half the lowest half of the population, has less than half of the income as in the 1970s. So there's an increase of income distribution to an elite. That's it, that's the difference. So, do you want again that you have to enter income to elites or do you want to income to the citizens and interestingly is that it is possible to develop especially on the blockchain technology, well, it has a lot of to work with technology like blockchain and artificial intelligence industry platforms. It is possible to make a blockchain and then put regional currencies on that. So you can make a sort of societal
money, which you can share in a region, and from there and you can develop everything you can produce everything, for example, with 3D printing, you can print most of the things that you need, you can make a city farms to make your own foods. So, a lot of the things that you need, so which is food or water, electricity, you know, and education, healthcare, with the new technology can do that on a regional level. So, you can make regional economies, regional societies, and which serve most of the needs that we have as human beings. Now, if you do that, then you make a local economy in which you share all the economic value that you create in a region, and that is more much more equal. Okay. You know, when I was reading about you, and Society 4.0, you also say that society 4.0 will be an era of advanced digitization. What
according to you are the top three digital trends that you are seeing that will impact the world? Well, definitely the most important one is the development of artificial intelligence. And that's already maybe you remember that in 1997, there was the first product of artificial intelligence that was a chess computer from IBM. Remember that Kasparov, by far the most, had the best chess player in the world was challenged by IBM with deep blue to play to chess. And he said, You know, I'm sure that-that will win, you know, come on with your computer, because I'm much better than that. Now, he won the game, and then
he only lost, you know, and he was devastated. And that was the first that was the first moments when humans were defeated by machine by artificial intelligence. Now, that was what we called rule based artificial intelligence and from then on, the development of artificial intelligence went on in the Santa Fe Institute for Complex Systems, for example, and the expectation that within five years, artificial intelligence will surpass human beings, and that there's not just memory or analytic abilities, that's what we call human level of intelligence. Everything that we humans can do,
what our intelligence is, can also be taken over by computers, that's called a Turing test, maybe you notice, the Turing test is you can test whether it's a machine or a human being. And within five years, we cannot distinguish anymore between humans and machines. Now, what this means is that why are the seven half billion people on this planet? There's not because we are stronger or because we run faster. That's because we're smarter. So within five years, the machines will be smarter than human beings that has enormous consequences. And,
five years ago, also Elon Musk, well known, he said, you know, the most dangerous technology is artificial intelligence that will surpass human beings, they will have an IQ of 200 or 300. So, my conclusion, and that's interesting for Elon Musk is it and therefore, I'm going to upgrade myself. So he developed a company called Neuralink maybe heard on that? Yeah. And with Neuralink he made a connection between the human brains and artificial intelligence. So you make small wires,
and you're on the skull. And then you combine the human brain with artificial intelligence. Now, a couple of months ago, that was the first result or the first success of Neuralink. It was published in the newspaper, big success for Neuro link because they upgraded pigs. Yeah, so did this experiment on the pigs, it was success. Well, it was not set what the success was. So then my imagination goes illusion now that I think they're dancing on their feet or something, I don't know what intelligence deal with but it was success. And a couple of
weeks ago, it was also applied on monkeys, you can see that on YouTube, there were a number of those things, which means that monkeys were sitting behind the screen playing computer games, you know, from children, so they have upgraded monkeys. So within five years, there will be people that upgrade themselves with artificial intelligence, there will be then humans that have an artificial intelligence of 200, you know, IQ of 200-300. And then you have the difference, which he you know, those we call the shy works, you know, advanced humans, human the technology combinations, though cyborgs, in five years will have an IQ of 200. You know, Elon Musk and or others. which compares to humans the same as from humans do to ants. I mean, that's a big difference. Yeah. And here, again, you have had it, that's a big development, but you can also take robots. And with artificial intelligence, it gets artificial intelligent robots with an IQ of 200, you know, these are big things. Yeah. And we are not thinking about it. But these
are ethical questions that we have to discuss, you know, on, what are we going to do with it? Because we can use this artificial talents to repair the brains of people with brain damage on the one hand, and then you take it for the goods. And then you get a sort of elite people with a different kind of IQ status. Very interesting. There's another technology if you
don't mind. Yeah. Because you're asking three so this was one. The other is biotech, which is called CRISPR/Cas 9 technology. Now, the CRISPR/Cas 9 technology has the ability to cut and paste in human DNA. Last year, the American and the Frenchman got a Nobel Prize for this. So it is a very important technology.
And then it was invented, you can cut and paste with human DNA. Now then I said, Wow, this is fundamental. We have to think about it. So there was a discussion to think about it. But meanwhile, one of those research people, Professor was called from from China. He was a Chinese professor. He was called from China. It was a Chinese billionaire. And he says, I have heard about the CRISPR/Cas 9 technology. Yes, yes, yes. Well, I have HIV,
can you get it out of my DNA? He said, I think so. So he went to China, he got a big laboratory for a million. And then he took the DNA of this billionaire, Chinese, he cut out the HIV, then he combined that with the DNA of his wife, then use the IVF technology to bring it into the woman. And nine months later, it was the birth of Lulu and Nana, these were the first designer babies in the world. Wow. And then the world says, you know, I don't want that, you know, we are not going to design babies behind the screen. And then the
Chinese okay, then we will stop. I'm not sure if they stopped, actually. So it is well possible that somewhere in China or other places in the world, we don't know that there will be factories, making babies, you know, on the basis of picking the human DNA, human genome and see what will be the right things to do. Here again, you know, this is very fundamental technology. And again, it's about ethical questions. Because on the one hand, we can use this technology to cut out all kinds of diseases, you know, I have family disease in my family, which is Alzheimer, and if my daughter said, I want to cut out the old Alzheimer out of the DNA before I made babies, I can understand that, you know, so you can improve the world by using this technology in a good way. But you can also use the technology to make sure that
super human, you know, you cut and paste a human DNA somewhere in the factory and make a special kind of Sapiens say 2.0 or 3.0. Now, this is also a technology with very fundamental for the future of humanity. And one of the other issues that I discussed in my book, what is the governance of this kind of questions? How do we do this? You know, because these are fundamental ethical issues on technologies and the results of that on humanity. And who is going to
decide what to do? And then come back to two societies was that, do we leave it to an elite? What we do with it? Is that the NGOs and on democratic organizations and the corporate state Sikora, corporations making that decision? Well, then I know what the outcome is. Or are we going to do it a more democratic way? And do we make sure that, do we make a sort of our governments from citizens and make the decision which is good for for society and citizens in general. Wow. These are the kinds of questions that are very fundamental, and it will be within five years.
Wow. So, Bob, let's talk a little bit about the ethical issue. You referred to it a few minutes ago, when we're talking. The world already has a very big gap between the have's and the have not's. Yeah, increasingly. My own impression has been that digitization, democracy will be able to bring the haves and the have nots closer. From what I'm hearing from you, the gap is probably going to get wider, because those who have technology will get exceptionally wealthy, and those who don't will be left stranded. Well, it is a trend already started in the 70s.
Yeah, so that difference, the haves and have nots has been changed since the 70s. And that will continue. If we don't interfere, it will continue for more times, the hope that I bring in my book is that you can also design a different society, and then using the technologies to bring that societies itself creates economic value. If I again, if you take the basis of the future science as a region, and you use all the technologies that humans need, have for having a good living. And you don't need the global players anymore. Yeah, with 3D printing, you can print most
of the things with on the blockchain technology can make your own cryptocurrency. There are also technologies like Robles, you can develop your own foods with robots. With biotech, you can produce the most things that you need. Also hospitals can be you don't need large hospitals with the technology can also make smaller hospitals on a regional scale, safer education. So my hope is that if you develop a regional society, with a regional economy, you can make a more equal world, you can make a better world with the same technologies. Again, you know, it's your choice. What we do with the technologies is to serve the elites or is it to
serve the citizens and the technologies are neutral. You know, it's what we do with it. And the hope that I give is that with all the technologies, we can make a better world as a regional level. And then we have to work together and stand together and start working on making a better world and that is possible. Amazing. So I have time for one more question for you. And I was debating what to ask you. But I think I would like to stay with the digital world
that you have been talking about. And such a fascinating picture you have painted a digital world Professor assumes there are no boundaries because they can cut across all boundaries. Yeah. What will happen with the world now putting up boundaries, every country becoming very insular, inward looking, everyone saying making their own country. What will be the impact on the people, the countries and the owners of the technology? Can you explain exactly the question again? No, I'm saying that, you know, the digital world means there should be no boundaries in the world because digital communication happens all the time. Yeah. But our politicians are putting up physical boundaries. Yeah. How will the digital world clash with these artificial walls that are coming up all over again? Yeah. It has to do with how the governance of
nation states in it has been a skill increase in the economy, it was very local, and there were regional, there were countries and as worldwide, so there was upscaling to the global level. And in the industrial society, because of mass production, country borders became more important and most important political decision were taking place at a national level. Now, the technologies make it possible to go to the regional level, which would make it smaller at a lower level. And basically is more or less. So it also works at a global level. So there will be a vacuum between the regional level and the global level. So most of the nation states developments or the nation states, decision making is becoming more irrelevant, you know, it's getting less importance. So at the national level, there will be a problem, because
what did you choose? Do you choose to serve the elites? Or do you choose to serve the society? That will be a clash. Okay. Now, if you look at the global companies, finance, pharma and and big tech, well, there are no boundaries for them. And let's not forget that most of those tech companies, are monopolists. That's out there. And they act as monopolist. You know, there's no freedom of speech here. There's censorship is enormously, they're using all their
money and all their power to get people in the control. And you have to accept the terms and conditions. So they try as a sort of corporate monopolists to do everything, which is in their interests. So they want to design a society which serves their interests.
And there's no way to cutting large companies. In the beginning of the industrial society was also company doing that. And then that was in the United States, the most important resource was oil. And then there was a company called Standard Oil, and they acquired everything on oil. So 90%, of the American economy was dependent on one company, Standard Oil, then there was a court case. And then Standard Oil was split up in seven oil companies, you know, the Seven Sisters. Yeah. And that was the beginning of the anti trust law. So that was that in the market only works if there are more than one or at least three competitors. So that happened to same in
the big elite intersociety, it has to be corrected, by cutting up as Standard Oil. At this moment, it is useless to cut up the digital technology companies, you know, because how do you could that's, you know, by nation, or how do you do that. So here again, I think they will act as monopolist. And because there are no feedback system, they will fall down at some time moments, there will be feedback from people, we don't want the one that anymore. And what I'm doing at the moment is to develop all kinds of decentral, smaller, new technologies that do exactly the same as these large companies are doing. As an example, in a region, we are developing the central Internet, and the central social platforms. So in a region, we put 1000
small boxes, these are computer servers, we combine them with radio graphic interfaces. On top of that we do software, and on that software, we can run all kinds of social platforms, then we are independent of the large tech companies, independent of the Facebook and the Instagrams and LinkedIn and all that. So it is possible, again, with the same technologies to bring it closer to the people, then it is yours again, you know, then you as a citizen, make the decision how you want to live in your society. And then the large companies will break down anyway, you know, there's no feedback on that. So they were overvalue themselves, they will be arrogant, and they will fall down. So that's what I think. Amazing. Bob, on that note, thank you so much. It's been such a pleasure speaking to you. Thank you for talking to me about your book,
Society 4.0, resolving eight key issues to build a citizen society. And I'm sure it's available on Amazon and I'll request all our viewers and listeners to check out the book and buy it if you'd like to. Thank you for talking to me so much about the digital world and the challenges and the opportunities that presents for all of us. We will come back again to you to talk about your other book on strategy and another area of specialization. But thank you so much. It was a great honor for me and a great pleasure. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you for listening to The Brand Called You, videocast and podcast. A
platform that brings you knowledge, experience and wisdom of hundreds of successful individuals from around the world. Do visit our website, www.tbcy.in to watch and listen to the stories of many more individuals. You can also follow us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Just search for The Brand Called You.