MURAT SÖNMEZ – Daily Sabah
Illustration by Erhan Yalvaç
The speed and scale of change brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) have put pressure on our societies, governments and businesses. But pressure can create diamonds.
The time is ripe for Turkey to kick-start a new kind of growth. Harnessing the opportunities presented by 4IR technologies offers an opportunity for my home country to enter the next phase of its development and show leadership in an evolving world.
Turkey is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. With industrial production up 5.1% in November, the highest increase since July 2018, growth expectations are set for 4% to 5% in the fourth quarter.
Turkey’s greatest asset is its people, and they are already starting to adopt technological changes in two key areas: autonomous vehicles and data-sharing.
The prototype first domestic fully electric automobile was unveiled at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show in January. With officials promising it will have autonomous features, we could be seeing a new nationwide emphasis on integrated mobility.
Turkey’s investment in this sector could reap dividends for years to come if progress continues. Autonomous vehicles have the potential to improve road safety, decrease pollution levels, reduce congestion and transform the design of our cities. For consumers, they can reduce waiting times, increase productivity and save costs, particularly when the vehicles are shared with others.
To shift toward this future, a vast amount of data – the oxygen of the 4IR – is required. From its uses in AI applications and gene-sequencing to robotics and improving agricultural yields, data increases in value the more it is shared. While recognizing the need to guard privacy, expanded data access could accelerate new industries. If Turkey acts quickly, it could be at the forefront of this data-sharing industry.
The disruptive shifts of the 4IR are reshaping public and private systems and risk leaving many players behind if they fail to keep pace. Leading in the 4IR requires leaders to apply an unusual combination of skills to mobilize large-scale action for a change across systems. Collaboration among business and government leaders is needed to jointly identify the best strategies to accelerate the adoption of technologies like autonomous mobility and data-sharing in a safe, eco-friendly and inclusive manner.
Turkey has already started this process. Turkey’s National Leading Researchers Program and investment in new skills will help strengthen and develop future leaders. Turkey’s partnership with the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution network offers additional opportunities to bring public and private leaders together to address key governance questions about responding to technological changes in the country.
As leaders from across Turkey travel to Switzerland for the 50th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum this month, the world is in a state of emergency. We do not want the next generations to inherit a world that is becoming less and less habitable – just think of the recent wildfires in Australia. And we do not want to stand by while our communities struggle to adapt to a changing world.
We want to be able to say to the next generation “you can rely on us.”
Harnessing the benefits of the 4IR will be key to taking meaningful action to achieve this goal. We have an opportunity for companies, and consumers, to teach and to learn from each other how to harness the technologies of the 4IR for good and better build a better world together.
*This article is penned by Murat Sönmez, managing director and head of the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network, World Economic Forum, for Daily Sabah’s WEF 2020 Exclusive Edition.