thinking outside the box
have you ever looked at a spoon and thought: "is there a better tool that can replace this?" or asked yourself: "what else can i do with this aside from eating with it?" truth be told, few of us have, and that's completely normal behavior. however, we all might want to start thinking outside the box (放开思路) and working on expanding our capacity to create miracles if we are to succeed. after all, we have entered the era of the fourth industrial revolution (第四次工业革命).
let's do a quick recap (概括) to see how we got here. the first industrial revolution, which happened between 1760 and 1840, involved water and steam power, bringing about machines like the steam engine (蒸汽机). the second, also known as the technological revolution, took place right after, and featured electrical power that made mass production (批量生产) possible. about 60 or 70 years ago, humans entered the third industrial revolution, or the digital revolution. we still see many of its achievements today: the computer, the internet, and of course, cell phones.
most recently, according to the world economic forum (世界经济论坛), we have entered the fourth industrial revolution, a time that may completely change the way we live. sure, we’re still using tools from the digital revolution, but the speed at which we are changing the way we use them is incredible. think about it. taobao and alipay didn't exist until early in the 2000s, and wechat is an invention of this decade. can you imagine a life without them? or ... picture this: you make a purchase off taobao. it is processed by a computer. the computer tells a robot, who places your item, which was made in a factory by other robots, on a drone (无人机). this drone flies straight to your home, where a special delivery tunnel brings the package to your room. and that's only the tip of the iceberg.
it all sounds magnificent, doesn't it? i remember a time when the internet was slow and unreliable, cell phones were big blocks of plastic and metal that could only make phone calls, and music came on cds. yuck! but, that's all beside the point (无关紧要). back in those days, people were called to fix the internet; people made brick-like cell phones; people sold cds. we are now looking at a time when most of those people are no longer needed. so, stare long and hard at your spoon, and think carefully.
1. how much do you know about the four industrial revolutions?
2. what are some examples of the technologies in the fourth industrial revolution?
note: artificial intelligence, genome editing (基因编辑), augmented reality (增强实境), robotics and 3-d printing, etc.
1. the first industrial revolution, which happened between 1760 and 1840①, involved water and steam power, bringing about machines like the steam engine②.
① which在这个句子中引导了一个非限制性定语从句，对前面的主语the first industrial revolution进行补充说明。
② 现在分词短语bringing about ... 在这个句子中作伴随状语。它所表达的动作是伴随着这个句子的谓语动词的动作发生的。
2. most recently, according to the world economic forum, we have entered the fourth industrial revolution, a time① that may completely change the way we live②.
① a time在这句话中作the fourth industrial revolution的同位语，对其进行补充说明。
complete each sentence using one word from the box in its correct form. note that there is one word more than you need and you can use each word only once.
exist completely involved possible invent special
1. the test will ________ answering questions about a photograph.
2. the doctors have done everything they ________ could to save his life.
3. his decision to study abroad came as a ________ surprise to me.
4. scientists have many theories about how the universe first came into ________.
5. alexander graham bell is best known for his ________ of the telephone.
key: involve possibly complete existence invention
3. 今年的运动会将于10月19日举行，比往年提前一周。(take place)
1. it is not a good idea to miss meals and replace them with snacks.
2. some of the shops closed early, which was quite normal for a friday afternoon.
3. this year's sports meeting will take place on october 19, a week earlier than usual.
choose the best answer.
1. which of the following statements is true about the fourth industrial revolution?
a. it happened in the early 2000s.
b. it is also called the digital revolution.
c. it has brought about the computer, the internet and the cell phone.
d. it will change the way people live their lives completely.
2. what does the last sentence in the last but one paragraph imply?
a. there are more things that robots and drones can do.
b. the invention of the computer and the internet has greatly improved people's lives.
c. a great many of the existing tools and technologies are being used in a totally different way.
d. since the digital revolution, more and more high-tech devices have been created.
3. what can we conclude from the last paragraph?
a. brick-like cell phones do not exist these days.
b. the internet is so stable today that many internet-fixers have lost their jobs.
c. the spoon will be replaced by new inventions in the future.
d. society upgrades so fast that many things we are familiar today will be replaced tomorrow.
in the third paragraph, the author imagines a picture that shows how the fourth industrial revolution will change our lives. what other changes will happen to people's lives in the future? share your imagination in an article of 120-150 words.
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