Since Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) announcement in 2016 of the impending Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in his book of the same title, SA has been swept up in the wave global hype around the extraordinary potential for 4IR technologies — artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, drones and blockchain — and the dire fate of nations who fail to embrace these inevitable technological developments.

There has been a disconcerting lack of critical engagement with the concept intellectually, politically and particularly from a policy perspective. Since the uncritical adoption of the 4IR by the  ANC at its 54th National Congress there has been no looking back for the country: it has become the mantra of every official event from the state of the nation address (Sona) to the presidential inauguration, in the context of economic growth, job creation and the empowerment of women and youth.

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