South African politicians have become enamored with the “fourth industrial revolution”—a term often used to describe the intense technological transformation taking place in the world —turning to it as a campaign catchphrase ahead of the country’s May presidential elections.
Their message: The fourth industrial revolution is coming! And it will either take jobs, or create jobs, politicians say, depending on who the voters choose. Never mind that the exact meaning of the term is up for debate—and that this focus on the future fails to take into account the extremely pressing problems of South Africa’s present.
Young voters are acutely aware of their prospects in a changing world, and politicians have coopted the phrase to assure them that they have a plan.