Interview about Beyond 4.0
2023 – Steven Dhondt, project leader of Beyond 4.0 was interviewed by Andrew Dunne of the EU Research & Innovation Magazine. The EU program Beyond 4.0 ran from the beginning of 2019 until June 2023. The research program yielded new methods for communities, companies and employees to keep control of technological innovations.
Rapid digitization is seen as the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ that is making fundamental changes in the way people live and work. The first industrial revolution was caused by the application of steam in industrial processes, the second by electricity and the third by electronics. The fourth concerns automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI), or ‘digitization’ for short.
In the interview, Dhondt gives four examples of actions inside and outside companies where proactive and practical steps have been taken to empower those involved.
The Dutch company Metaglas offers employees more openness about the policy and gives them more control over the development direction of the company and product development than a few years ago and more than comparable companies. (See elsewhere in this knowledge base, with link below.)
The second example concerns the development – by Nokia in collaboration with universities and the Finnish local government – of a successful ‘entrepreneurial ecosystem’ in the town of Oulu. In Oulu was an important branch of Nokia where many engineers were threatened with dismissal in 2010, when Nokia lost a battle in the mobile phone market. A major brain drain from Oulu was prevented.
The third example was an action in the frame of a two-year experiment with a ‘universal basic income’ in a region in Finland. Beyond 4.0 researchers believed that an unconditional income guarantee could undermine the principle of solidarity in society. They experimented with a ‘participation income’, the linking of the universal income to an activity that is considered useful to society. Not all conclusions have yet been drawn, but participation income is on the agenda of the Finnish parliament to discuss.
The fourth project focused on how digital technology could help job seekers find work. They need individualised help or support and training. To this end, the HECAT system was developed that can help people find out where jobs are available and how they can best prepare to acquire them.
The results of Beyond 4.0 have led Dhondt to the following conviction: ‘we need to develop new forms of corporate policy and social support. And we should not see new technology as a threat, but rather use it to shape the future and create new jobs.
Andrew Dunne: Easing job jitters in the digital revolution. As new technologies reshape workplaces, EU research has come up with new ways to help companies and workers stay in control. In: Horizon, The EU Research & Innovation Magazine, 19 Sept. 2023.
The entire interview can be downloaded via this link: https://ec.europa.eu/research-and-innovation/en/horizon-magazine/easing-job-jitters-digital-revolution.
A related you tube film: https://youtu.be/O7T7D96tw0Q
The case description of Metaglas can be found via: Workplace Innovation at Metaglas