“Disruption”? Not even in our dreams

Disrupted
Fabrizio Ferrari - AD di Aitek
20 May 2019
Aitek develops intelligent systems for transportation, video surveillance and digital signage for communication. Their 300-year long growth has always been linked to the most prestigious international universities and research centres which has allowed them to become one of the most important companies in its field. Fabrizio Ferrari, already Vice President of Confindustria at Genoa, is one of the founders and current CEO.

Disrupted? Not even in our dreams

Retex: Researh drives innovation, both of which are Aitek’s distinctive traits. Does this mean that digital disruption is an expected and basic process, if not even a mistake?

FF: It is exactly so. The emphasis lies in alleged generational changes, while actually they are the last step of gradual processes which have always existed. Indeed, these changes have only been possible because of the gradual cost of relations.

Retex: Good. So, its better not to mention “data is the new oil” around you?

FF: Yes. This excitement around the term “disrupted” results in misleading interpretations. Data is not a natural resource, it is a personal factor. Facebook, for example, has created a financial empire with a gigantic network of data selling. It is a dangerous and unnatural game.

Intangibility, advantages and dangers

Retex. Yet, intangible assets have major advantages, right?

FF: Of course. Data has incredible potential from the economy to our own society to the environment. However, countries are currently lacking the competencies to control and manage it correctly. Governing bodies need to have full knowledge of data to put in place laws, limitations and management procedures. Yet this process takes time, something which the fast paces technological evolution does not have.

Retex: The incredibly tight time frame is hence reducing abilities to limit social damage.

FF: We could talk at length on this topic. At this development we should be seeing improvements in our quality of life and a reduction of social penalties.

Retex: Such as?

FF: Content digitalisation and value creation should have resulted in more free time. The exact opposite has happened, the term “always connected” means that work weeks have become longer and weekends shorter.

Retex. And this is the worst consequence?

FF. No, it is not the only one. All this new technology and capabilities has not led to increase certainties, instead it has exponentially grow our uncertainty. The contradiction is clear, ever present giants such as Uber and food delivery companies are in everyone’s face. To this day, no one can tell is we will able to manage robotic technology and AI applications correctly to improve working and social life, even if I very hope for this outcome.

Responsibility, illusions and mistakes

Retex: What about responsibility?

FF: A myriad of it, and they are distribution in a “democratic” way. We have already talked about government roles, but there are few managers which know how to correctly handle this change; labour unions and social groups have displayed a very low understanding of this.

Retex: This closely reminds of how much has already happened after the introduction of VAT tax. Spreading illusions and hiding the truth is a fixed trait of our time.

FF: We never fail in delivering delusions, for sure. For example, it worries me to see the development of start-ups being taken as an accurate measure of growth. It must be cleared that a start-up is incredibly dangerous for the founders. If I promote it as an alternative to not finding work, I am simply creating low cost resource traps.

Retex: Innovation is a value, not an ideology.

FF: Certainly. Aitek has been in the innovation game for 30 years, I can say that innovation is never a homogenous, linear growth. Research and experimenting require verification. Given this, for every two steps forward, one is taken backwards; and sometime you have to stop completely and start again.

 

Read also: Artificial intelligence: a mix of delays and opportunities