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Machines against human beings?

A thesis discussed at the University of Urbino examines one of the crucial questions for society today and attempts to provide an answer

 

Automation and digitisation. The new horizon for any production organisation that wishes to stay on the market. The path that leads towards Industry 4.0 is ubiquitous, and yet not without its ambiguities, even if the dilemma of the contest between robots and humans remains, and often spills over into debates and declarations regarding the world of work. A dilemma, among other things, which has returned to relevance, after first emerging during the era of the first industrial revolution. Reading Arianna Di Nardo’s research, discussed within the Department of Humanities at the University of Urbino, helps to provide us with a better understanding of the contours of this subject, providing a wealth of useful information to enable us to better assess the situation.

Di Nardo’s work, entitled “Siamo umani, siamo insostituibili” (We are humans, we are irreplaceable) begins with the story of its origins, and as such, with the need to respond to a number of preconceptions concerning the future of work, such as the idea that “robots will replace us” or that “in the future we will be replaced by machines, there will be no more work for anyone”. These are crucial considerations for young jobseekers, but also for those already working within companies. The question that di Nardo attempts to answer, therefore, is simple: is it really true that we can be replaced by technology?

She attempts to find answers to this by first considering the concepts of smart working and the man-machine duo, before moving onto look at the degree of influence that new technologies exert both on society and on individuals. Following this, Di Nardo moves on to address what are often referred to as soft skills, or in other words, the human characteristics that contribute to making us indispensable: emotional intelligence, empathy and creativity.

The conclusion of Di Nardo’s research is largely positive, as long as we succeed in changing the working model: a cultural leap that many of us need to make, and which is certainly far from easy. The author writes that in the face of the evolution of technology, we must be “aware that technological progress cannot be stopped, and that it is therefore useless to compete with machines (…). Paradoxically, however, it is machines that have helped us to understand that cultivating our human skills is the only solution we have in order to face the challenges of the future from the best possible position.”

Siamo umani, siamo insostituibili. Affrontare le sfide del futuro con intelligenza emotiva, empatia e creatività(We are humans, we are irreplaceable. Addressing the challenges of the future with emotional intelligence, empathy and creativity)

Arianna Di Nardo

Thesis, Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo, Department of Humanities, Master’s degree in counselling and coaching skills. Training and experience programme on effective communication in professional and organisational contexts, 2020