Revolution 5.0 and the Ocean Economy

May 15, 2020

Introduction:

The Fifth Industrial Revolution is at Los Angeles’ doorstep, and AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles is ready to embrace it. Our Center of Innovation focuses on Aquaculture, Blue Technology, and Ocean Energy.  Our Aquaculture Cluster invites companies to tackle issues such as sustainable food production. Our Blue Technology Cluster constructs and uses underwater robotics and other ocean exploration technologies. Our Ocean Energy Cluster will focus on kinetic wave energy and algae fuel technologies. 

Why does this matter? The Fifth Industrial Revolution brings focus back to humanity by coupling the concepts “for-profit” and “for-benefit”.  While revolutions of the past have focused on efficiency and productivity, the Fifth Industrial Revolution asks us to become accountable to our neighbors—to save our planet and to sustain its population. To do this, we need to evaluate the entire workforce system and its relationship to the world at large. 

One of the leaders at the forefront of this movement is Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce.  At the World Economic Summit in 2019 he described his vision for the Fifth Industrial Revolution:

“It will be about saving the planet. We have a lot of work to do. We can see the rising temperatures. We can see how that affects the oceans, changes our ecosystems. We see how it impacts our forests. We’re still de-foresting at an acre every second. We have to ask ourselves – is this the world we’re going to leave our children?”

He went on to say: “The future is about every one of us taking personal actions to improve the state of the world.” Turning these words into action must be part of L.A.’s economic recovery. A 2019 report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicated that there are five ocean-based practices to mitigate climate change:  renewable energy; shipping and transportation; protection and restoration of coastal ecosystems; aquaculture; and carbon sequestration.  With AltaSea, L.A. has a platform at the Port of L.A. to drive economic growth, to create good paying jobs, and to improve the quality of life for everyone on this planet.

5 Revolutions? How did we get here?

Most of us are familiar with the First Industrial Revolution, that mechanized the textile industry and saw the invention of the steam engine.  The Second Industrial Revolution centered around mass production, while the Third Industrial Revolution saw the introduction of the Internet and  vastly improved communication and high-tech production.  The Fourth Industrial Revolution circles around smart technologies, smart factories, and how everything will be automated and connected.  These four bring us to the Fifth Industrial Revolution.  In it, sustainable technologies, saving the planet and humanity will be key.  Some of the previous Revolutions were isolated to their time, sometimes taking nearly two centuries to play out, but especially with the pressures of a global pandemic, the Fourth and Fifth Revolutions are overlapping each other.   

The Fifth Industrial Revolution

This overlap of the Fourth and Fifth Industrial Revolutions will create an opportunity to not only develop a workforce in which jobs are fair and equitable, but to also work towards sustainable goals for the planet. The years ahead will see major changes in the United States as smart automation, a key factor in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, will have a large impact on society.  The McKinsey Institute reports that over half of jobs in the US– equivalent to around $15 trillion in wages – have the potential to be automated and will be by 2055; the World Economic Forum also forecasts that key shifts in technologies will create the “world of tomorrow” in the next decade. But such a shift in and of itself is not enough.

The late Peter Drucker, who many believe is the inventor of modern management, once stated that culture eats strategy for breakfast.  In other words, values last and success cannot be more important than trust.  It’s not that strategy is trivial, but the people involved with an organization or cause need to be excited about it in order to effect change. And this, in essence, is the Fifth Revolution:  People want to make a difference and leave a responsible footprint.  To this end, marrying jobs that are efficient, equitable, and promote sustainability will encourage a workforce and inspire the next generation.  A key issue of the Fifth Industrial Revolution is how to affect sustainable and equitable change in the workforce together with technological advancements that make tasks more efficient and productive.   

Connecting to the Ocean

In this Fifth Industrial Revolution, it is the emerging Blue Economy sectors that can best combine technology, equity, and sustainability. The Blue Economy will do this through measures that address food, energy, and water security, as well as climate change.  With AI replacing jobs on land, the ocean is the key to creating the workforce of tomorrow.  In fact, the Blue Economy is already witnessing the birth of new industries, such as algal biofuels and carbon sequestration technologies, alongside the development of current ones, such as aquaculture.  All these will contribute to a better planet.  The job loss seen in other industries can be replaced by jobs in the Blue Economy, and on a much more level playing field.  Most important, these industries and the jobs they create can be built with the guiding principles of the Fifth Industrial Revolution in mind. Adopting these solutions will create jobs that are at the same time sustainable and help our planet. 

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