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Ethics and culture of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

An essay by Stefano Zamagni focuses on the limitations and risks of new technologies

 

The fourth industrial revolution and good manufacturing culture, i.e. production organisation that is effective and efficient, but also aware of man’s role in each and every production process. The current crux of issues related to innovation and businesses that need to keep up, is important and increasingly complex. “L’impatto economico e la sfida etica delle tecnologie convergenti” (The financial impact and ethical challenge of converging technologies), an essay by Stefano Zamagni which was recently published in the I Quaderni dell’Economia Civile (The Civil Economy Notebooks) series, is useful better to understand what this is about.

The author starts this piece of research by writing about the sense and the way in which “the Fourth Industrial Revolution ‘touches’ our condition of life and affects the articulation of our societies.” Zamagni then explains: “It is now generally accepted we are experiencing a genuine historical cornerstone; therefore, not a natural evolution or a simple magnification of trends already in place during the long period of industrial society “. And that’s not all, because what we are currently experiencing is also complicated by the phenomenon of globalisation.

Hence, new techniques made even newer by being more global than ever before. However, Zamagni explains, while the “global nature” of what is happening has been discussed significantly, “the same cannot be said” about new technologies. In other words, according to Zamagni “we do not know how new technologies and the culture that governs them will alter the essence of capitalism over the coming years”.

So Zamagni outlines a future filled with uncertainty in his research, which investigates the consequences of the situation “on three specific fronts: that of human labour, that of democracy and that of public ethics”.

Having said this, the investigation focuses first on “The”res novae” of the Fourth Industrial Revolution” and then moves on to identifying what might be “The future of human labour in the age of robots” and then switches to an investigation of the ethical and social relations of all this (“The misalignment between democracy and capitalism in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution” and “Certain ethical implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution”). On the whole, plenty of attention is placed on the position found by man within production and faced with the new relational technologies.

What Stefano Zamagni has written is not simple, but it is certainly substantial and important. What emerges is an approach to production that is both ethical and technical, attentive to the laws of economics and those of a corporate culture that is also civic culture. Almost at the end of his research effort, the author states: “A society in which the principle of fraternity dissolves is not capable of a future; in other words, a society in which there is only ‘give and take’ or ‘giving out of duty’ is not capable of making progress”.

L’impatto economico e la sfida etica delle tecnologie convergenti (The financial impact and ethical challenge of converging technologies)

Stefano Zamagni

I Quaderni dell’Economia Civile (The Civil Economy Notebooks), 5, Aiccon, 2018