Society 4.0:
How to Prepare for the Impact of the Technological Revolution

Aspen Institute Central Europe, in collaboration with Opero and ABRA Software, organized another debate on the topic of “Technology and Society” on May 16th, titled “Society 4.0: How to Prepare for the Impact of the Technological Revolution.

In the opening presentation, Pavel Kysilka highlighted that according to OECD statistics, two countries in Europe are most vulnerable to the digital revolution: the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The current comparative advantages of Central European countries may become entirely insignificant in the digital age. To succeed in the new conditions, Central Europe must have qualified people prepared to continuously learn new things in the future. Furthermore, having quality infrastructure will be essential – in addition to a good highway network, it will be crucial to provide all regions with high-speed internet. Macroeconomic stability and security will continue to play a major role. In the second presentation, Daniel Prokop shared the results of surveys focused on digital inequality, which can be divided into two main types: inequality in internet access (generational, socio-economic, regional) and inequality related to digital skills. Digital inequality is usually connected to other forms of inequality – job availability, social capital, and educational quality. On the other hand, internet access can help alleviate some of these inequalities. If society as a whole wants to succeed in the digital age, it must minimize digital inequalities to the greatest possible extent, not only among groups with different education levels but also between individual regions.

In the following discussion, moderated by Petr Beneš from 6D Academy, Eduard Palíšek outlined the main features of Industry 4.0, where the development of new processes and models leads to product individualization but at the cost of mass production. Jan Straka emphasized the need for a societal debate on how to transform education to ensure that graduates can thrive in new conditions. In the Czech Republic, teachers are among the lowest-paid university graduates, and only 3.5% of GDP is spent on education, which is 57 billion less than the average of OECD member countries. Despite this, Czech education achieves average results. Bára Bühnová shared her experiences as a university lecturer in IT and her work with the non-profit organization Czechitas, which aims to increase IT literacy among women and young people. As an illustration, she mentioned that she teaches six programming languages at the university, none of which were taught when she studied IT at the university.

Experts from the European Commission estimate that for every job lost due to the digital revolution, 2.6 new jobs will be created. Eduard Palíšek considers this estimate to be significantly underestimated. On the other hand, if along with Industry 4.0, there is no emergence of Society 4.0, the digital revolution may bring about deep social disparities instead of new job opportunities. To prevent this, individual education must span multiple fields and be lifelong. Are we prepared for this?

The full recording of the entire debate is available here:

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