The 4th industrial revolution or the rebranding of the crisis of capital?

Bela Irina Passos Natário de Castro


On January 2016 the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters has announced that we are entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution. However, while proclaiming that the new cyber-physical system revolution is based on different factors from the previous ones, namely in terms of velocity, scope, and systems impact, the world leaders have recycled old narratives of risk, disaster and threats of world calamities and securitization to promote new markets and reshape social relations as well as labour. In fact, today's biggest defenders of basic income are based on Silicon Valley.

How will we manage to feed the growing populations? How will we create jobs for everyone? How will the world address future epidemics? One thing is sure, new technologies such as quantum computers, neuro-technological brain enhancements, 3D printers and genetic editing have the potential to shape not just labour and social relations but also our own biology and the nature of our-self. The question in here is how and by who?

In this paper I will deconstruct the arguments advocated in the Davos forum based on the perspectives of the New Feminist Engagements with Matter, anchoring my critics to the 4th industrial revolution in the concept of secular stagnation. I will also demonstrate that the fourth industrial revolution is not new and that the idea of a cyber-physics revolutions has in fact coexisted within emancipatory narratives since the beginning of the millennium, mostly through the metaphor of the cyborg. The New Materialist Feminism, in this sense, act as my prime framework for the analyses of the emerging narratives of the new industrial revolution. I also believe that the new feminism materialism redeems the lucidity of Marx´s analysis of constant capital and variable capital without demonizing technology and allowing us to explore the emancipatory potentials on the technological development of third generations technologies.

industrial revolution - Materialist Feminism - cyborgs