According to a recent World Economic Forum survey, more than 75% of information and communications technology sector executives believe that within 10 years, we’ll have robotic pharmacists, automobiles manufactured using 3-D printing. They also believe that 10 percent of cars on the road will be driverless and 10 percent of people will be wearing clothes connected to the internet.
Meanwhile, in their 2015 book “No Ordinary Disruption,” McKinsey & Company directors Richard Dobbs, James Manyika, and Jonathan Woetzel estimate that change today is happening 10 times faster and at 300 times the scale of the First Industrial Revolution, which they say works out to 3,000 times the impact.
The current period of transformation is sometimes referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It is times of opportunities for business and society as well, given the high pace of innovation, and the numerous benefits that the new technologies are enabling. There are many examples of how the cloud computing and artificial intelligence can help in education, healthcare and agriculture (see few examples here). The businesses that are agile enough to adjust and leverage the incredible times of innovation would be able to enjoy the economic bust that such new trends can bring: the power of insights into the unstructured data by using machine learning, new ways of interacting with their customers in the digital world, the flexibility of working mobile and secure the same time granted to their employees while enhancing their productivity through cloud computing solutions, the incredible power of the Internet of Things.
At the same time we are fully aware that the new technological trends like cloud computing, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence do raise a range of deep concerns. A study by Chapman University found that technology ranks second among the things people are most concerned about, with cyberterrorism, corporate tracking of personal information, government tracking of personal information, and identity theft all earning spots in the top 10. The survey also found that nearly one person in three worries about losing their job to a robot and one in four is worried about whether to trust artificial intelligence. This is the reason why Microsoft launched “A Cloud for Global Good“, a set of recommendations advocating for a responsible adoption of the new technologies, and for the self-assumed responsibility of the tech companies in building trust, reliability and inclusion.
There are serious policy and social issues that requires new approach in the eve of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. What steps can we take to address income inequality? How can we help people acquire the skills and knowledge they will need in this rapidly emerging new world? How do we preserve privacy and free expression while protecting public safety?
At Microsoft, we believe that for this to truly be the beginning of a period that fundamentally changes people’s lives for the better, we must start by focusing on three key principles: trust, responsibility, and inclusion.
 McKinsey & Company, No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Forces Breaking All the Trends.