A recently published book in Italian describes and analyses the role of AI and how it affects work


To understand the present and have a reasonable idea of the future: in the end this is the “formula” for conscious behaviour. This also applies, and perhaps is even more applicable, to business. Knowing where you stand and where you are going is not however a new approach for astute entrepreneurs and managers. It is precisely what changes and complicates the situation that has to be understood and foreseen. This is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes in. No longer an abstract concept, AI must be understood and used properly rather than vilified. Read Human + Machine. Ripensare il lavoro nell’età dell’intelligenza artificiale (Human + Machine: rethinking work in the age of artificial intelligence) by Paul R. Daugherty and H. James Wilson to get a good knowledge base on the subject.

The initial premise of the book is two-fold. Firstly, it points out that Artificial Intelligence is no longer a futuristic notion. Secondly, the two authors explain: “Intelligent systems are not limited to automating numerous processes in order to make them more efficient; on the contrary, they enable people and machines to work collaboratively and in unconventional ways”. The book’s key word is therefore not contra-position but collaboration: humans and machines with work in common.

Daugherty and Wilson begin addressing the subject by explaining what AI is today from different aspects: manufacturing automation, customer service and marketing activity, research, innovation and development. The second part of the book discusses the complex issue of how to adapt the potential and the work mode of Artificial Intelligence to current production processes and work in general. This step is quite delicate and training is essential.

Daugherty and Wilson end the book with: “When talking about Artificial Intelligence, a large part of the conversation tends to concentrate on replacing jobs and the fear that computers will one day take over the world. The implicit assumption is that people and machines are in competition, and that intelligent systems will eventually replace us in companies and perhaps even outside the corporate world given their superior speed, processing capacity and stamina in a wide variety of situations.” The message delivered in the book is different. There is a different space now where new work and production opportunities can develop. The book illustrates an example of research results: “The concept of ‘fusion skills’: humans and machines working together to form new types of work and professional experiences. This constitutes a ‘ghost space’ unaffected by the polarising work debate that positions humans against machines. Cutting-edge companies have reinvented their work processes here in this centralised ghost space.”

The general conclusion of Human + Machine is: “Organisations that take advantage of the potential will move forward, those that do not are destined to close.” The book by Daugherty and Wilson is a good read, especially because it provides tools to think about and analyse what goes on inside and outside factories and offices.


Human + Machine. Ripensare il lavoro nell’età dell’intelligenza artificiale

Daugherty Paul R., Wilson H. James

GueriniNEXT, 2019