They are calling it the fourth industrial revolution. It is a change that concerns all areas of employment, not only major industries and multinationals. It is the Digital Revolution and as all major changes it can catch off guard if not entirely by surprise. A survey conducted by the Top Employers Institute and the School of Management of the Milan Polytechnic found that over 176,000 jobs will require high technological and digital knowledge from today until 2020 in Italy alone. Given this offering of new jobs, the bad news is that there are not enough people with the right skill set for the task. In Europe, for instance, the gap between offered jobs and adequately skilled people increases by 3% and there are some 20,000 vacant high-tech posts in Italy today.
A comment from Italian Conference of University Deans (CRUI) illustrates the impact of the Digital Revolution: “This is a very critical moment for young people. In ten years’ time, 40% for all employment opportunities will come from jobs that do not exist today. Data Scientist, Social Media Manager, eCommerce Manager, Digital Strategist. These are some of the new professions most required by companies in all areas, but which are difficult to train in-house or procure on the labour market”.
The twelfth edition of the “World Conference on The Future of Science” – which will be held in Venice from September 22 to 24 – will be dedicated to investigating the risks and opportunities of the Digital Revolution in depth. “Digital Revolution: what is changing for human kind?” is the title chosen for the world conference organised by Fondazione Umberto Veronesi and promoted by Fondazione Giorgio Cini and Fondazione Silvio Tronchetti Provera, created to foster the study of science among young people, and Pirelli, firmly based as the company is on research and innovation.
“The industrial revolution will impact all areas of human activities and for this reason we need to create new young talents to take on the challenge,” explained Lucio Pinto, Director of Fondazione Silvio Tronchetti Provera. “Our foundation, established with the goal of promoting research in science, technology and economy by educating young researchers of excellence, sees the Future of Science 2016 as an important event in our country's development”.
Starting from the assumption that every minute of our life is crossed by small or large transformations and continuous human-machine interactions – smartphones, computers, the cloud etc. – it is crucial for companies to understand how to organise and adapt their technologies and skills to requirements and for people to understand what the digital age means for daily life.
The event will be organised in various sessions and thematic areas. The opening session will be dedicated to artificial intelligence and the relationship between science, technology and society with speeches by Alessandro Curioni, Vice President Europe and Director of IBM Research, and Sheila Jasanoff, Pforzheimer, Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Director, Program on Science, Technology and Society Harvard Kennedy School.
The first session – with world-class speakers such as Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli from the University of California at Berkeley and Derrick de Kerckhove from Toronto University – will be dedicated to the importance of data in an all-digital world. Big Data can be a risk as well as an opportunity. For this reason, the session will also focus on computer security and data protection, virtual reality and the Internet of Things. “People, objects and spaces are constantly connected to the Internet via intelligent devices and circuits", explained Alfonso Fuggetta, Professor at Milan Polytechnic and CEO of CEFRIEL. "Activities may be tracked and profiled to generate a huge amount of data. These, in turn, may be used to create new forms of communication, facilitate our work, make the environment safer and cleaner and, in general, improve the quality of life”. The session will be closed by Carlo Ratti, Director of the MIT Senseable Lab which will offer a view of cities and infomobility in the Digital Revolution age.
The second session of The Future of Science will revolve on the impact of the Digital Revolution on society with the goal of investigating the digital values that Big Data can bring to society (such as such by public administration and in bureaucracy) and on how democracy changes in the digital age. “Digitalisation will be turning point for democracy. It provides digital connections, exchanges of information and real-time interactions and opens new ways for communications and functional interaction between states and citizens on various levels of governance”: this will be the concept underlining the speeches of Patrizia Nanz, Scientific Director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies and Professor of Transformative Sustainability Studies at the University Potsdam and Ariane Goetz, Research Associate in the Participation and Governance project at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies Potsdam. The session will be closed by Carlo Batini, from the Milan University Bicocca, who will focus on the impact of Big Data on society and on state governance.
The twelfth edition of the conference will be closed by the session dedicated to healthcare during which world-famous scholars will focus on the matter of data collection to foster advances in biology, medicine, life digitalisation and nanomedicine. "Healthcare is rapidly evolving from being product-centred to being patient-centred”, declared Michael Seewald, Worldwide Head of Real World Evidence at Novartis, who is one of the speakers. “Data are collected in many different manners during daily medical practice and this opens the way to new opportunities for scientific research and for improving healthcare systems”.
In brief, the Digital Revolution will concern all areas of our life: the Venice conference will the opportunity, particularly for the many young science enthusiasts, to share the urgency of understanding the scope of the phenomenon and exploiting its benefits.