Industry 5.0 – People 5.0: Shifting from Technology to Human Factors

I’ve done a lot of thinking as usual, and as much as I hate just following fads, sometimes they just hit you in the face. It’s when you get into those conversations where everything is broken, we’re all doomed and we’re all gonna die unless somehow, someone finds a magical solution to save the world. Indeed, these conversations may be amplified after a few drinks, but it sets the mind pondering about where all this technology drive is taking us and who really is benefiting from it.


When I first heard the term Industry 5.0, it annoyed me as I assumed as most people do, that it’s just people trying to “Own” the next iteration of the Technological Developments. But the more I thought about it, the more I started to realise that as much as Industry 4.0 is the data revolution and everything needs to be connected, it’s all about non-human processes. What I mean is, I4.0 is ultimately one system talking to another. I know there is a play on words where humans have more connectivity to their devices via cyber physical systems (CPS) but that’s all it is – connectivity.


I4.0 is about maximising profits for the large organisations and making them even more dominant in the global markets – and there’s nothing wrong with that. But its what we leave behind that troubles me. Automation will indeed reduce the manual jobs that many workers either hate, enjoy, tolerate or need, depending on their individual circumstances. This very often leads to the question of “what are we going to do with all of these unemployed / unemployable people?”


Governments are thinking about taxing Tech companies to somehow claw back their profits that they (the Government) will have to shell out in unemployment benefits. It’s a conversation that is resounding in many countries but it’s still an issue they can dodge and feel they don’t need to address it until sometime in the future.


In my head, that conversation needs to start now. We need to look at mechanisms now that promote this healthy relationship between humans and their machines. We create (rightly or wrongly) technology to simplify our lives, yet most people do little to make the most of the time they could gain to improve their health or expand their minds. Instead we just turn to more apps on our phones to kill our precious time by watching endless videos of people breaking their necks doing the most stupid things – again nothing wrong with that.


Without sounding like a lefty, we need to bring the balance back to the centre. Our politics are extreme, and our business ethics are extreme. The global companies that control our lives are not going to stop and think that they need to share the wealth or worry about the impact they are having on the planet (palm oil and the plastic industry spring to mind). To them they simply must return shareholder value.


So, we need a badge to drive the human case – to get people to think about the human again. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the new goal in I4.0 to boost our armoury in the ever increase search for zero-human interaction. But AI can only go so far and is dependent on the human needs. AI has no purpose without the human requests for answers to illogical needs. AI doesn’t need to worry about growing old or dying (even though researchers desperately try to impose emotions on our poor silicon clones). Humans are complex things. They need challenges, they need new toys but ultimately, they still want to remain human (albeit a few of us may want to live forever but that’s a whole new discussion).


After all the waffle, the message is this. Technology is a driver, but the human is the subject. We need to bring the conversation back to quality of life for all. We need to reign in the global giants who are programming us for their needs. We need Governments to be bold (good luck with that one) and stand up for what is right for the masses and not to play to the egos of individuals.


Although I started with the title Industry 5.0 as a follow-on to I4.0 (a sneaky marketing ploy to reel you in!), in fact it’s a whole different conversation. It’s a philosophical topic area and not a technological one. It puts us (human-humans) at odds with our business and technical friends even though they will tell us they are looking after our best interests. We need a new revolution and People 5.0 (more marketing of course) is a good a brand as any to start the human fight back against other humans who are suppressing us – not the poor machines who are just literally trying to do your jobs. Human Factors is a topic now being researched but its still in the technical domain. We need to expand the conversation and genuinely put the human first, not just find more technology to imprison us.