@UKZNEdgewood @fionakhan @UKZN
PRESENTATION TO THE SOUTH AFRICAN WRITERS’ CIRCLE
20TH JULY 2019
THE FOURTH INDUSTIAL REVOLUTION (4IR) PART II
Fiona Khan is an award-winning author, poet, academic and environmentalist. She specialises in the upliftment of communities and global trend setting. She is an innovator of the Globalforum4literacy project, working in conjunction with the UNESCO and the creative cities network. They set trends in SA and internationally for global mobile and digital downloads. Fiona has been a writer and educator for 29 years and has twenty titles to her name. Her current project is her Masters’ dissertation entitled “Transforming pedagogy & methodology globally by creating a new programme for tertiary institutions”.
Fiona Khan continued her talk from our June meeting, on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). She began by saying that the popularity of genres set in the future change how we perceive writing using technology, the future of AI, Big Data and the ‘Internet of Things’.
Our present reflects our past; Jules Verne, considered by some to be the Father of Science Fiction, wrote about futuristic technology. His books reflect his forethought of exploration using technology that was then unheard of but is mostly a reality today. His books include Around the World in 80 days, referencing airships like the Hindenburg, Demon of Cawnpore (now Kanpur), Journey to the Centre of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon, 20 000 Leagues under the Sea, and All Around the Moon. On the 20th July this year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, which was only a figment of imagination in his day. Television series such as The Man of Steel and the Star Trek series, featuring the USS Enterprise, were equally imaginative.
Comic books prepared us for what to write for the future; we learnt about technology and exploration as well as classic literature.
Science fiction written by authors such as HG Wells, including titles such as The Invisible Man, The First Men on the Moon, In the Days of the Comet, The Time Machine, and The Shape of Things to Come, this last book defined HG Wells’ ‘prophetic vision of the future’. Science fiction can be defined as speculative fiction incorporating futuristic ideas, which may include a Utopian ideal. Dystopian novels are in direct contrast, generally dealing with a post-apocalyptic existence. Books of this genre include Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World, George Orwell’s Animal Farm (first published in 1945) and 1984, published in 1949, which centres on ‘the risks of government overreach, totalitarianism and repressive regimentation of all persons and behaviours within society’. The ‘eye-in-the-sky’ technology foreseen then is a fact of life in today’s society. The radio broadcast by Orson Welles on 30 October 1938 of H G Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds, caused panic amongst people who believed that Earth had actually been invaded by Martians.
The creature created by the character Victor Frankenstein, demonstrates Man’s need to be stitched together, to be a part of a whole. Prior to that, Dracula, written by Bram Stoker in 1897, may have been inspired by the invasion of the Turks of the Ottoman Empire between the 15th – 18th centuries.
J R R Tolkien explored a new genre of high fantasy, exploring Middle Earth, in his books The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. His work is often compared to J K Rowling, author of the contemporary fantasy Harry Potter series.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) can be seen in books such as the AI-themed Robocop, which was made into an award-winning movie, and The Vampire Diaries which was made into a major television series.
We continue to explore outer space, with expeditions to the moon. The 50th anniversary of the first moon landing was celebrated on 20th July – and the viability of a manned Martian mission is currently being investigated.
Sustainable living will not be possible if we run out of water, an increasingly diminishing resource, and over which future wars may be fought. In the same vein, the environment with rising temperatures and sea-levels will experience huge natural disasters including tsunamis and earthquakes.
Fiona encouraged us to explore ideas on aspects of time; what will happen in 10,20,30,40 years from now? How are YOU going to change the future of writing?
Science Fiction has indeed become Science Fact.
We thank Fiona once again for her time and interesting and contemporary presentation.
I attended as guest speaker and inspired women to aspire as 4IR experts from the home to the boardroom as the future rests in the hands of a woman
PRESENTATION TO THE SOUTH AFRICAN WRITERS’ CIRCLE
15th JUNE 2019
THE FOURTH INDUSTIAL REVOLUTION (4IR) PART I
What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution? If you know about ‘the internet of things’, you know about the 4IR.
It’s important that we stay abreast of the times and the way that we perceive the reality of the future.
Some books and movies have had a huge impact on our lives; Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, George Lucas’ Star Wars movies and many others.
Some of us will remember the 1980’s TV series Knight Rider featuring Kit, the talking, self-drive car. Some thirty years later, we do have talking (if you use Google maps) and self-driving cars, which are fast becoming the norm.
We are also used to using AI in our daily lives; not many people do not have a cell phone – usually a smartphone – and/or a tablet, iPad, laptop, smart TV – all of which allow us instant and easy access to the internet and the infinite knowledge it holds.
Older people may not be totally at ease or familiar with using technology in this way, but it’s not difficult to master speaking into your electronic device and having Siri, Alexa, the less anthropomorphic Cortana, or the robot Sofia reply to you in a human voice.
Family dynamics have changed with the advent of the 4IR. Electronic devices are used by parents as a miniature creche, to amuse and distract. Busy women, coping with multiple responsibilities, can equally run a home and business with the aid of technology.
Big Business uses data collection to monitor our likes and dislikes; think of when you swipe a card when you make a purchase, in return for which you get “cash or kind” kickbacks. Every item is scrutinised, and your personal preferences added to a database. Banks know all about you. Being able to open numerous accounts with different banks or different branches of the same bank is no longer possible as you must produce your unique identity document to do so, and you will be recognised.
When you sell your books, this data gathering works in your favour. You are able to monitor sales and trends and target your audiences. Whether or not you are self-published, you have to know where your books are going.
Bear in mind that contemporary writing should be kept in touch with futuristic trends; when Jules Verne began writing sci-fi, he set the scene for futuristic writing. His imaginary stories including Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in Eighty Days and Journey to the Center of the Earth now have roots in reality. But not all sci-fi is authentic; think Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives, about previously independent, professional women being transformed into submissive robots.
One has to have an element of curiosity to keep up with the 4IR, especially to impart knowledge to children. We are all teachers with knowledge and experience to impart, but to remain relevant, we have to be ‘tech-savvy’. Older people may stay in one job for a long period, while younger people will explore different opportunities.
The First Industrial Revolution involved advances in mechanisation; the Second IR focused on using electricity for mass production and the Third IR is the use of digital technology and green energy. Not everyone will embrace the 4IR; but teachers who do not make use of the available skills will be replaced by those who do.
These advances include computer literacy and use of the Cloud for data-sharing and communication. This includes the use of social media including Twitter and Instagram to publicise your work. You will create a following of people who will listen to you and read what you write. Almost everyone finds it difficult to work without access to social media today – keep up with today’s Z-Generation.
We thank Fiona for her time and look forward to her presenting Part II of the Fourth Industrial Revolution at our July meeting.©FIONAKHAN