The 4th Industrial Revolution is here. And it invites us to act.

Panagiotis Karampinis, Managing Director of Endeavor Greece

In every major transition from one era to another, there are visionaries and innovators but also critics and hesitators . Every technological breakthrough in the history of mankind has brought significant changes not only to people’s everyday lives but also to work , entrepreneurship, education and society.  If the previous industrial revolutions have helped us exceed the limits of the human body, the revolution that is taking place today helps us transcend the limits of the human mind, therefore maximizing our potential. In terms of entrepreneurship, we can grow rapidly with minimal resources, as the technological developments and reduced costs that are required for setting up and running a business have democratized access to knowledge and creativity. Those who realize this opportunity in time will form the world of tomorrow.

An example of a Greek business that is a global leader of this technological revolution is Softomotive, which provides Robotic Process Automation solutions, helping end-users improve the quality and performance of their work. “In big organizations there are armies of people who repeat the same processes daily, without any creativity” says Marios Stavropoulos, the company’s co-founder and CEO. Softomotive is a member of Endeavor’s global network: a network of people who watch the world change, innovate, create solutions and value, and this way shape the future.

Artificial Intelligence and other new technologies such as Blockchain Technology, Internet of Things, Cloud Computing, Big Data, Machine learning, Virtual/Augmented Reality, Wearables, Drones, etc., are revolutionizing all aspects of our lives. They change and will continue to change the way we move around, interact with our home, monitor and take care of our health, but also the way we learn, protect society from disasters, protect and empower the weakest layers of society, the way we work as individuals and as organizations and, finally, the way we have fun.

In the meantime, while every aspect of our lives change, countless specialties are abolished and many new ones are created. Many repeated, monotonous tasks as well as the processing of large volumes of data become automated, therefore freeing up time for substantial tasks that require critical thinking, creativity and innovation, while minimizing the chances of making errors or being affected by personal beliefs and prejudice. At the same time (and while the topic of personal data protection is trending) since technology has become prevalent in almost every aspect of our lives, with the help of technologies like Blockchain businesses can secure even higher quality services, with complete security and certainty. According to Alexis Pantazis, co-founder and managing director of another member of the Endeavor network, Hellas Direct, this technology will be very useful in the insurance industry, as it will allow the safer transportation of data and the safeguarding of users’ personal records. Another pioneering Greek entrepreneur and member of the Endeavor network, Nikos Moraitakis, founder and CEO of Workable, states that “the arrival of Artificial Intelligence will highlight different skills in people’s CVs and will change the way they are being evaluated,” something that he knows well, since Workable is leading this global trend.

Businesses and organizations of all sizes are radically changing the way they operate and train their employees in order to be able to deal with new conditions. At the same time, new businesses are established that leverage new technologies and offer solutions to problems that have remained unresolved for years. Centaur Analytics in the field of agriculture, Metamaterial Technologies in Materials, Pollfish in Consumer Research, NumberAI in Customer Service, Norbloc in Corporate Data Identification and Matternet in Drones are some of the brilliant examples of Greek companies that improve and automate our lives. Artificial Intelligence has the power to transform a country. According to Gartner Research, 30% of Investment Managers in the world’s largest companies say that their first investment priority for 2020 is Artificial Intelligence technologies. In other words, if we want Google, Apple, Facebook, Intel, Microsoft and other giants to come and invest in Greece, we need to foster the creation of high tech companies in our country.

The question is this: is Greece ready for this new era or will there only be a few bright exceptions? The country must immediately start a digital transformation at all levels, through policy-making and the enhancement of entrepreneurship and education, in order to cultivate an environment that is conducive to creation, innovation and development. Science education in our country is of a particularly high quality; the number of talented young people who have moved abroad to look for better job opportunities and career development is important, while many Greeks who live abroad have established their own technology companies or lead venture capital funds that invest in pioneering ideas that are at the forefront of this technological revolution, worldwide. Connecting these parties as the country’s mindset is changing, securing suitable grounds for technological research and business activity and preparing the next generation through education creates the unique opportunity of shaping a dynamic and fast-growing business scene in Greece, with multiple positive impacts for the economy, society and the country’s image to the rest of the world.

Children attending the first year of the gymnasium this year will graduate from university in 2030 and some of them will start the next big Greek companies. By then, Artificial Intelligence will have penetrated our everyday lives and will have increased global GDP by 14%! Concurrently, children born today will graduate from university and enter the labor market in 2041, just before the famous singularity, when the machines’ computing power will surpass that of the human brain. This generation of future entrepreneurs was born and will grow with technology in their life. Through Education, they must learn how to leverage technology and the opportunities it offers, while developing a philosophy of lifelong learning in order not only to stay aware of, but participate in radical technological developments in real time. Being users of technology and the amenities it provides is not enough; they must also experiment, create and innovate.  Starting from the mindset of the consumer, we need to cultivate the mindset of the entrepreneur.

The approach to Artificial Intelligence through education that we offer at school, at home, in business and in society as a whole will determine whether we will succeed in taking advantage of all the opportunities that technology has to offer.

The article was originally published in the Doukas School Yearbook.  

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