FOOT SOLDIER IN THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION is a Jeffrey Cooper’s straightforward account of his life and career separated into two sections–the first covering his working life, the second a more personal family history. An appendix includes a portfolio of family photographs. The “fourth industrial revolution” part of the title comes from the idea, coined by Klaus Schwab in a book of the same name, that advances in AI, microchips and the internet would irrevocably change business and society.
Although much of the close family history is perhaps too detailed to hold the interest of non-relatives it includes some rather sweet and personal recollections and occasionally throws up surprising little nuggets like the author seeing a group of UFOs in 1969. For general readers the book is more interesting when Cooper discusses his working life and how business evolutions turned into a revolution driven by advances in technology, or as he writes “the arc of the maturation and sophistication of electronics.” Most of Cooper’s time was spent working in the finance departments of Lockheed Martin and GE Aerospace–companies which had lucrative contracts at the cutting edge of new technological developments. The growth and eventual decline of GE is covered in some depth as is his time with ABB, a Swedish-Swiss multinational corporation.
On the eve of the financial crisis of 2008, Cooper was fortunate enough to secure a position with ASML, a company that made semi-conductors which had its base in the Netherlands. As he recalls, “even though the economy was doing terribly, technology was marching on, and the foundation was being laid for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” And Cooper found himself right in the middle of it. Working for ASML allowed him to travel frequently, including visits to robotics factories in France, Germany and Japan.
This section on work is in depth and precise. Fact follows fact. A prose style that perhaps reflects the author’s preference for detail and accuracy, the kind of skills requisite for a successful career in finance and planning. It results in a lot of the text being rather dry but cannot be faulted for its clarity in charting the course of Cooper’s career. Towards the end of the book the author reminisces about how when he started work in 1975, as an operator of a mainframe computer, that computer filled a 10,000 square foot room. Now he has a phone in his pocket with 200,000 times the memory of that early computer. Things change very quickly in technology. It’s a relentless race and this book is a useful insight as to how “foot soldiers” such as Cooper play such an integral part as industry moves ever onwards.
Though sometimes a little dry, Jeffrey Cooper’s FOOT SOLDIER IN THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION does a good job at detailing the way technology has altered industry and society. By countering these facts with a warm personal memoir packed with family details, the author reveals the human side of the latest industrial revolution.
~Kent Lane for IndieReader