Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali has said the fourth industrial revolution or 4IR is something “real and present, even in Bangladesh”. “There is just no point in arguing if it is good or bad, if it will benefit Bangladesh or not. 4IR is not something for us to accept or, reject or, regulate,” he said, speaking at a workshop in Dhaka on Tuesday. “At micro or macro levels, each of us is only to get ready – in the government or, in business or, in research,” he said.
“And, move fast. We need to employ our imagination, creativity, innovation without hindrance or, inhibition – for our schools, factories, companies and even government.”
The foreign ministry organised the workshop on the 4IR.
The minister shared a “fascinating story” of a Bangladeshi couple - Rini Ishan and Rakib Reza – who have been quietly manufacturing robots in Bangladesh, commercially.
One of those is a three-dimensional concrete printer robot, Mahmood Ali said. This year, their company, Planetary Limited, has already exported eleven robots to South Korea.
“For some time, I have been telling our friends around that Bangladesh is in nuclear age, is in space age, Bangladesh is a shirt-to-ship story. And I can now proudly say, Bangladesh is also in the robotic age and 3D Printing,” he said.
“The story of Rini and Rakib is not something in isolation. Thousands of our youth already put Bangladesh high in the global IT freelancing map.
“Thanks to the passion, imagination and steady work of a few, Digital Bangladesh is now a reality, contributing to transformation of our social and economic landscape at the grassroots,” he said.
“Some 4,554 Union Digital Centres, e-procurement, 100+ simplified public services, and smart health cards for instance are leading us on 4IR pathway," the foreign minister continued.
He referred to his conversation with Prof Schwab who labelled the 4IR and said he asked him why he had labelled the fourth generation technological changes, as “Revolution”.
“Prof Schwab responded saying that the upcoming technologies are bringing transformative impacts in the thinking – values – life – work of every individual, every enterprise, every industry, and every country in ways that have been unthinkable till recently.”
“While revolutions in history have been loud, visible and often bloody, the fourth industrial revolution is rolling out so silently yet bringing impacts infinitely profound than the earlier technological or political revolutions,” the foreign minister said.
“We see how a tsunami of science-technology-innovation and creative use of 4IR tools and applications are transforming the lives of individuals, companies, countries across the world of entertainment to education to employment.”
He said Bangladesh is a story of “aspirations, resilience and innovation” of millions of young women and men across villages and towns.
“In our journey to attain sustainable development, we are also mindful that around half of Bangladesh population would be living in urban areas by 2030.
“They will demand all kind of goods and services that we can estimate today. It is time that we join hands with all to embrace 4IR robustly.”
He also sounded optimism in his ambitions.
“If few teenagers can roll out Pathao or, our researchers can unlock complex genomics of jute and hilsa, then we can do so much more with Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Drones, etc.”