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We Already Are in the Quaternary Industrial Era

British economist Colin Clark (1905-1989) explained that the spendable income for the working class varied according to industry levels, i.e., the spendable income increased as they moved from the Primary industry to the Secondary from the Secondary to the Tertiary. These days when we are experiencing loss of jobs due to the cutting-edge ICT (Information and Communications Technology) of the 21st century without creating new jobs to replace them, we need to examine new economic and labor policies as we move from the Tertiary to the Quaternary industry.

I think we now have an opportunity to open the full-scale Quaternary Industrial era with smarter economic policies after the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, at a time when the Korean government is struggling with Digital New Deal, I see a possibility for a rapid shift of relative importance toward the Quaternary Industry for the working population and their economic activity.

As Internet technology evolved over the past 20 years, the world has changed quickly in all societal economies. Even primary industrial workers can process their own products from home or remotely with advanced machines and can sell them directly to consumers via the Internet.

The Internet and innovative technologies enabled the integration of primary, secondary, and tertiary industries. For example, a woman who had worked for a foreign company in Seoul purchased an empty farm in Korea’s far-south area with her retirement pay. She also runs a lodging business through Airbnb, a house-sharing platform, and provides the guests from Seoul accommodation in Kangjin, Jollanamdo. In the daytime, she goes out to the farm and tends to her crops, and in the nighttime or on weekends, she visits the co-op to process crops and sells them to the city members through the Internet.

As in the case above, entrepreneurs or operators in the secondary and tertiary industries are doing primary, secondary, or tertiary jobs simultaneously.

Then, how can we categorize the industry in the converged state?

This type of converged-industry is already beyond industrial classification. Analyzing the operation of the business, it fundamentally belongs in the secondary industry, not the quaternary. Yet, she utilizes AI (artificial intelligence), which represents the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  

The world has already seen a new Quaternary industrial category made possible by the convergence of various industries through the Internet. It follows the tertiary service industry, a combination of the Primary and the Secondary by convergence.

In the tertiary industrial classification, the three significant production factors in terms of Economics are Land, Labor, and Capital. However, in the Quaternary Industrial era, the elements of production must include the Internet that enables convergence among cyberspace, cyber market, and various industries. Therefore, the significant factors of production in the Quaternary Industrial era are the four factors: Land, Labor, Capital, and the Internet.

In line with the development of Internet technology, innovative progress was made in convergence businesses with the concept of land converging from horizontal to vertical in cyberspace. Furthermore, the languages of each country became economic resources in the 21st century.

Big data used for and keyword advertisement are language resources products. Countries as a whole do not know that their language is their own natural resource. The concept of labor was also modified due to the emergence of robots that can substitute for human labor.

Thanks to the Internet, telemedicine activities were enabled. The capital was the driving force for the emergence of Internet shopping malls, Cloud systems, crowdfunding, and cryptocurrencies. This proves that three significant factors of production are converging through the Internet. I believe the success of the Digital New Deal depends on the Quaternary Industry.

Industries that can be classified as the quaternary industry are convergence industries such as the convergence of space and time, supplier and consumer, of medical and robot revolutions. These are industries where space and time (past and future) have merged. And every country’s language resource is one of the economic resources.

The world has already entered the era of limitless competition in the convergence industry. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it impossible to delay the arrival of the convergence industry. Corporations are struggling to increase productivity and reduce labor costs through mechanization and systemization.

Maintaining jobs as a stopgap measure in the existing industries has reached a critical point. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, vested interests in all sectors have become nominal. At this point, we need to put all objectives on consumers and improve global competitiveness.

An international survival game has begun to see who can acquire the best productivity in the industrial structure faithful to the objectives that determine the 21st century. The Quaternary Industrial era urgently demands better speed and agility.

The government’s task is to make a list of elements that could interfere with the process of moving the working population and their earnings toward the quaternary industry. The government should publicize it to establish the just and free economic order for the quaternary industry together with the people. That is the first task for the government on behalf of the Digital New Deal.

Industrialization originated in Britain. However, they blocked the development of the automobile industry by enabling the “Red Flag” law. One act was sufficient to expel the automobile industry (also known as “flower of the Secondary Industry”) from Britain on a grand scale.

In the Quaternary Industrial era in the early 21st century, the success of the Digital New Deal depends on the discovery and activation of the Quaternary Industry that commensurate the position at the heart of civilization. A new world of renovation, Quaternary Industry, awaits us if we shatter the wall of a rigid thought process based on a fixed route.

Let’s lead the Quaternary Industry, with advanced ICT.

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