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From Industry 4.0 to Industry 5.0 – I

As most companies are still struggling with the Digital Transformation to become an Industry 4.0, thinking on Industry 5.0 is already on the way. Image credit: Interreg Europe

I am participating in the definition of the program for a Master on Innovation and Digital Transformation supported by Universalus and University of Cassino. One of the distinguishing point of this Master is its goal of supporting students in the implementation of the concepts they are learning. So it is about the Digital Transformation and about the implementation of the Digital Transformation.

I still remember one of the best “boss” I ever had used to tell me that success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. I would say this could be the guiding principle of this Master: 10% is about the concept of the Digital Transformation and 90% in actually implementing it.

As I was revising the program I noticed that we have been talking about Industry 4.0, clearly a very important topic that goes hand in hand with the Digital Transformation. Indeed, Industry 4.0 is about digitisation of resources (as much as possible), digitalisation of processes (re-engineering) and leveraging on the new environment (new business models and expanded offer portfolio).

In a way you can say the Industry 4.0, by leveraging the digital space is reinventing industry. However, this focus on Industry 4.0, absolutely required, is addressing just part of the whole. As a matter of fact, the European Industry 4.0 (Industrial IoT in the US) is called Society 5.0 by the Japanese, since they want draw attention that this transformation is involving the whole Society. I think they are making a very important point. Rather than discussing, as we often do, the extent to which the “digital transformation” may affect (read “decrease”) jobs, the Japanese are looking at whole transformation of Societies with the need to reinvest in human capital through a different education program, a re-training of current workers to use them in different -new- sectors. In other words they are looking at the re-engineering of Society.

This point is captured by Industry 5.0 where the relation is no longer “using (smarter) machines” that eventually can replace human labour, rather exploit machines through a collaboration among them and humans. This is a two way relation, where humans learn from machines and machines learn from human. This requires a shift towards cognitive machines, one of the novelty in Industry 5.0.

Another crucial point to be addressed by Industry 5.0 is to go beyond the industry environment, taking into account the whole system, that is the implication that industry has/may have on the whole. Sustainability is both economical (in the present and in the future) and environmental. Additionally, Industry is asked more than to have a zero impact on the environment, it is asked to contribute to a bettering of the environment.

Of course, this is easier said than done. For this the European Commission is funding research towards this goal.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.