Industry 4.0 – Digital revolution or unknowingly creating Skynet?


Industry 4.0 – Digital revolution or unknowingly creating Skynet?

Managing potential cyber risks for Industry 4.0

In the original Terminator movie, a fictitious system was introduced to the world: Skynet. This was one of the first examples where an artificial intelligent neural system become self-aware and turned against its creator: humanity.

Martijn Knuiman & Beer Sijpesteijn - 6 januari 2017

Industry 4.0 risks

The loss of human control over Skynet created a great movie plot for The Terminator, released in 1984 when the Internet was still in its infancy. By now, more than 30 years later, the plot seems a lot less fictitious. As a next step in the digital revolution, industries are digitizing their factories, connecting production lines and integrating supply chains. This is commonly referred to as Industry 4.0, and next to the promising opportunities, we should be conscious about the risks and responsibilities this brings. The key question we like to discuss in this blog: are we able to evaluate and remediate potential risks for Industry 4.0? Or are we unknowingly creating our version of Skynet, losing control not to an artificial intelligence, but to human based threats?

Spark innovation

Within Industry 4.0, manufacturers continue to drive extensive innovation in production, manufacturing processes and industrial ecosystem relationships, in order to compete in the changing global marketplace. The manufacturing industry is expecting to see an acceleration in the pace of change in technology due to emerging trends, such as:

  • Large scale investments in intellectual property and exponential technologies;
  • Exploration of Industry 4.0 digital manufacturing opportunities and increased interconnectivity of the industrial ecosystem;
  • Rapid adaptation of sensor technology, smart products and Internet of Things strategies and analytics to drive increased customer service and business efficiency.

New innovations often go hand in hand with new risks, like those the Wright brothers faced for their first flight. When developing new technologies, the question is how to deal with those risks. Should we hold back, in fear of disaster (crashing a plane, or creating our own Skynet)? Or can we find ways to overcome new risks? Just like the Wright brothers, we propose to keep innovating and keep creating value. Our approach should go beyond security and should not be based on fear of failing.

Cyber risk in advanced manufacturing

Deloitte and MAPI recently launched the Cyber Risk in Advanced Manufacturing study to assess Industry 4.0 trends and related cyber risks. Given the highly connected environments our manufacturing clients work in, and the pace of technological change they face, cyber risk is a top-of-mind industry issue. However it is worrisome that nearly half of the executives we surveyed are not confident they are properly protected from external threats. In response, we argue not to stop innovation, but to start managing these cyber risks with confidence.

Six key cyber risk themes for Industry 4.0 emerged in our study, that are critical to manufacturers’ abilities to capture the value associated with this new frontier of technology. These themes include 1) executive level engagement, 2) talent and human capital, 3) intellectual property, 4) industrial control systems, 5) connected products and 6) industrial ecosystem.

In the coming months, we will publish a series of blogs explaining how each of these themes is a necessary link in managing cyber risks for Industry 4.0. By making cyber security a priority whilst, and not after, digitizing factories, connecting production lines and integrating supply-chains, manufacturers can manage their cyber risks with confidence. This allows them to reap benefits of their innovation in good consciousness. And, as a welcome byproduct, it might save future mankind from Judgment Day and a Rise of the Machines.

Do you want to know more on cyber risks for industry 4.0?

Do you want to discuss the potential risks for your organization? Please contact Martijn Knuiman at +31 (0)88 2882941 /

Read more:

'Cyber risk in advanced manufacturing' study

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