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Automated world, automated business

A philosopher looks at the latest frontiers of new technologies

Business 4.0, but not only. Digitalisation, but more. Network, not just one but many. Automation is increasingly complex, pervasive and important. These are some of the issues that come with the modern production system – and to those who live and work in it – from the complex, merging together of new technologies. It is something that is constantly changing and ever more present. It is something that exists and needs to be taken into account more and more. That’s why it is very important to read Il mondo ex machina. Cinque brevi lezioni di filosofia dell’automazione (The post-machine world. Five short lectures on the philosophy of automation) by Cosimo Accoto. The author is a business philosopher and a research associate at MIT in Boston with years of experience of analysing issues such as code philosophy, data science, artificial intelligence, the logic of platforms and blockchain technology.
Accoto’s book is a journey around some of the effects of new technologies that, from time to time, take shape as artificial intelligence and deep learning, but also as drones and robots, and then as blockchain and smart contract, or even as cybersecurity. It covers all aspects of working and non-working life that have to do with machines and the technologies that make them work.
Starting from the observation of how the world, and above all the future, is automated, the author reasons that these new technological frontiers are potentially bursting with opportunities for the construction of a more transparent, fair and secure system on the one hand, but are not without vulnerability on the other. Taking into account this dual aspect, Accoto’s idea is that automation is redesigning our conceptual ideas and categories, professional activities and human relations, cognitive and disciplinary practices, ethics and policy. A complex process, which involves both personal and production culture, with all the associated consequences.
It’s a complex perspective, so to help guide the reader, Accoto organises it as a journey through a series of clear stages of what new technologies enable: knowing, working, organising, destroying, governing.
Accoto’s book certainly can’t be read with a quick glance: each passage needs attention and a critically focused eye. It is not an easy book to take on but after reading it, one will certainly feel more capable of stepping out in front of the “automated world” that surrounds us.
In his conclusions, the author writes: “If we want to overcome a vision that aims to save machine-centricity and start a mature, constructive dialogue, we must read the technology both culturally and philosophically, pulling it in from the sidelines where it is usually relegated.”

Il mondo ex machina. Cinque brevi lezioni di filosofia dell’automazione
Cosimo Accoto
Egea, 2019