“Industry 4.0”? Not so fast…


ASE Global has sponsored an interesting infographic at Visual Capitalist, explaining what the next generation of manufacturing will look like.  It calls it “Industry 4.0”.  Here’s a screenshot of part of it.  Click the image for a larger view.

It looks very impressive . . . but it ignores a fundamental aspect of this “evolution” – namely, its utter dependence on a stable power supply and a stable Internet.

Our power supply is increasingly unstable, thanks to reliance on “renewable” energy such as solar or wind power.  A windless day, or a cloudy day, or a winter freeze that disables wind turbines (short or long-term), and all that electric generation capability is shut down.  Existing fossil- and nuclear-fueled power stations are being closed down, and not being replaced by similarly reliable generating capacity.  We saw how perilously close the entire Texas power grid came to total, long-term collapse in February 2021.  I’m willing to bet we’re going to see the same again, and perhaps even worse, in the not too distant future.  If the worst happens, what does that mean for Industry 4.0?  It means it shuts down, and stays down, because reliable power supplies will no longer be available.

The same is true of the Internet.  Just look at how problems at Amazon Web Services, the biggest service provider of its kind in the USA, crippled many companies last month.  If the entire Internet shuts down (as it will if the power goes down, or if other major interruptions such as an EMP event occur), Industry 4.0 is toast too.

It’s all very well to hype up the wonderful prospects of the new, improved industrial complex . . . but if there’s no power and no Internet, the old Industry 2.0 and 3.0 will be sorely missed.  There needs to be a lot more thought put into that, and serious pre-emptive restructuring of our power grid, before Industry 4.0 will be trustworthy.



  1. It will be just fine when the Elites eliminate 90% of the human race. Well, really it won't, because they will eliminate the people that make it work.

  2. Old NFO – I've been involved with robotic development for power plants. The difference in software capabilities in the last 10 years makes today's robots orders of magnitude more capable. That said, it takes a human to activate that potential.

    As Jerry Pournell used to say, First World countries depend on cheap and reliable power. I used to do a merit badge for boy scouts and parents would look at my bio and catch me during a break. I'd ask them where was the world's most reliable and cheapest power. They would never guess the US. The Government has been doing their best to move us out of first world status – to Peter's point.

    Lastly I remember reading in School back in the 70's how robots and technology were going to reduce our work week and allow us more leisure time. Understanding why that hasn't taken place will help you start to understand a lot of what is going on.

  3. The old instapundit line "What did Socialist use before candles? Electricity"
    I also got a big laugh at the Internet of Things. I do not want my refrigerator on the Internet.

  4. Sadly, Peter, you're not catching on to the whole Reset thing. The whole point is that little peeps like you and me will do without luxuries like electricity or fuel or energy. So in truth there will be plenty for Industry 4.0. If there's a bug die off of the proletariat so much the better for the oligarchs.

  5. Xoph nailed it, except that all the leisure time is taken by the 50 % of the country on welfare of some sort.

    The ants are supporting the grasshoppers via threat of jail by the IRS.

  6. This is what you get when governments interfere in a free economy. We should have widely-distributed, safe, small-scale nuclear power by now, but government bureaucrats forced dependency on a small number of fragile, large-scale operations. As we are now seeing, centralization creates fragility and a high risk of catastrophic failure.

    We are seeing small-scale, homestead farming increase rapidly as a response to the fragility of our industrialized food supply. We are seeing the terrible risks that western industries have taken by outsourcing so much of their manufacturing to China. We have given them a kill-shot weapon against us, merely to shut off our supplies of manufactured products.

    Meanwhile, we are encouraging mental illness ("genderism" and "wokeism"), failing to provide for our future (consumerism), dumbing down our children, and deliberately destroying every institution and tradition that made the West civilized and sustainable. Absent a mass uprising by the remnant Americans, I see no hope for the future.

  7. No one seems to want to mention the elephant in the room.
    Pushed by the green energy zealots the auto makers are all announcing how they will be switching over to all electric cars and perhaps even trucks over the course of the next few decades.
    And no one is doing any analysis, at least not publicly as to what effect that massive increase in electrical demand will have on the US power grid.
    Every green source of energy except nuclear is intermittent.
    Solar requires a clear sunny day.
    Wind requires air moving not to fast and not too slow.
    Even hydro can fail during a drought.
    Couple a huge ramp up in domestic energy to charge those tens of thousands of electric vehicles with the unreliability of green power and the inevitable result has to be the sort of rationing and rolling blackouts that have become common in California with their socialist energy policies.

  8. While robotic capabilities are increasing, they are also being way over sold and over hyped.
    If you look into the number of robots claimed to be in use worldwide, the vast majority of the number are CNC machines, NOT robots in the sense that most people expect.
    Assembly is a tough job and is automated far less than most people think -for example, auto factories still employ many thousands of people and have only automated a few processes that are either very dangerous or very simple.

  9. Arthur C. Clarke's Third Law states "Any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic". I can't claim originality but I don't recall where I saw this edit:

    "Any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from a brick when the power's out."

    And, shamelessly, while I'm on hiatus from blogging because of a family issue, I did manage to finish one up and so – please – take a look:


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