On a blistering hot Friday in Pretoria last week, behind the glass-and-steel architecture of the headquarters of troubled ICT firm BCX, something emerged that may be the beginnings of a coherent SA response to the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). About 40 people from government, universities and public research institutions gathered at the sprawling campus’s multipurpose meeting centre. Among those present were representatives from the departments of trade & industry, telecommunications & postal services, public service & administration, and science & technology. The Reserve Bank, Telkom, the Human Sciences Research Council and the Council for Scientific & Industrial Research were also in the room. They were invited by the SA Fourth Industrial Revolution Initiative (4IRSA), a new collaboration between the universities of Johannesburg, Fort Hare and Wits. Telkom is the founding sponsor. This is not the first time such a gathering has met to talk about all things 4IR. But this even...

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