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The Next Production Revolution

Implications for Governments and Business

image of The Next Production Revolution

This publication examines the opportunities and challenges, for business and government, associated with technologies bringing about the “next production revolution”. These include a variety of digital technologies (e.g. the Internet of Things and advanced robotics), industrial biotechnology, 3D printing, new materials and nanotechnology. Some of these technologies are already used in production, while others will be available in the near future. All are developing rapidly. As these technologies transform the production and the distribution of goods and services, they will have far-reaching consequences for productivity, skills, income distribution, well-being and the environment. The more that governments and firms understand how production could develop in the near future, the better placed they will be to address the risks and reap the benefits.

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Public acceptance and emerging production technologies

Public acceptance of technology is a key factor in how innovation impacts society, and its consideration should therefore figure in policy making around the next production revolution. There is a persistent but misguided view that resistance to technology mostly stems from public ignorance about the true benefits of particular technologies or of innovation in general. Social science research shows that more important reasons for such resistance might be basic value conflicts, distributive concerns, and failures of trust in governing institutions such as regulatory authorities and technical advice bodies. In general, countries and innovators should take into account, to the greatest extent possible, social goals and concerns from the beginning of the development process. While it remains a challenge to realise this goal, best practices have emerged that can serve as a guide. These include funding social science and humanities in an integrated fashion with natural and physical science, using participatory forms of foresight and technology assessment to chart out desirable futures, and engaging stakeholders in communicative processes with clear linkages into policy. All of the above will help build trust and trustworthiness into innovation systems.

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