Toward the Fourth Industrial Revolution on Real-Time Customization

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3 Scopus citations


The outputs of a national economy can be partitioned into three sets of products: tangible goods (due to manufacturing, construction, extraction and agriculture), intangible services (due to an act of useful effort), and an integration of services and goods or, as initially defined by Tien (2012), servgoods. Actually, these products can also be considered in terms of their relation to the first three Industrial Revolutions: the First Industrial Revolution (circa 1800) was primarily focused on the production of goods; the Second Industrial Revolution (circa 1900) was primarily focused on the mass production of goods; and the Third Industrial Revolution (circa 2000) has been primarily focused on the mass customization of goods, services or servgoods. In this follow-up paper, the Third Industrial Revolution of mass customization continues to accelerate in its evolution and, in many respects, is subsuming the earlier Industrial Revolutions of production and mass production. More importantly, with the advent of real-time decision making, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, mobile networks, and other advanced digital technologies, customization has been extensively enabled, thereby advancing mass customization into a Fourth Industrial Revolution of real-time customization. Moreover, the moral, ethical, security and employment problems associated with both mass and real-time customization must be carefully assessed and mitigated, especially in regard to unintended consequences. Looking ahead and with the advance of artificial general intelligence, this Fourth Industrial Revolution could be forthcoming in about the middle of the 21st Century; it would allow for multiple activities to be simultaneously tackled in real-time and in a customized manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-142
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Systems Science and Systems Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • Industrial revolutions
  • Internet of Things
  • artificial general intelligence
  • artificial intelligence
  • big data
  • connected servgoods
  • goods
  • mass customization
  • mass production
  • production
  • real-time decision making
  • servgoods
  • services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Information Systems


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