Technology, without a doubt, is quickly changing the way we think, live, and experience the world around us.
In this constant evolution, one question seems to emerge more and more often: what role will human beings play in the near future?
A time for technology
In the past few years, we have seen a real revolution in every aspect of our life. Technology, without a doubt, has impacted this process the most, quickly changing the way we think, live, and experience the world around us. Private life, relationships, and work are changing in both superficial and profound ways, as innovations make it possible to carry out activities we could not even imagine before.
Every one of us can notice the effects of what seems to be an unstoppable revolution, destined to lead to extremely significant changes in every facet of our daily life. Just think about smartphones: these devices appeared less than 30 years ago, but have become the icon of a new era. Born as communication tools, they seem to be almost an appendix of the contemporary human being: they are our memory, our network, our work, and the medium that most easily allows us to open up towards the world, and to the other people who live in it.
The transformation is here
Considering this example can help us understand how technology has become an integral part of our lives, with an unprecedented impact. The current transformation is bringing to life a complex system with blurred outlines that are hard to define.
The effects of such a fast and pervasive revolution are, indeed, the focus of a number of researches and analyses in a variety of fields, from psychology to biology and from business to politics.
Setting aside the purely theoretical issues, we cannot deny that the increasingly massive presence of technology is leading to a general redesign of the world as a system.
However, in this context of constant evolution, one question seems to emerge more and more often: what role will human beings play in the near future?
Work, Technology, People
The answer, just like the answer to any complex question, is neither simple nor univocal. However, we must try to at least narrow it down as regards the context of work, and especially the industrial field. History has taught us this is where we may more clearly grasp the trends, potentials, dangers, and challenges that we will face tomorrow as a society: when technology changes we change the way we work, and society changes as a consequence. Therefore, it’s important for anyone who is part of the productive system to face the issue seriously and with a sense of responsibility, in order to bring back into balance the roles different sides play.
How important is technology? How important are people? What is the relationship between the two? Only by answering these questions will we be able to build a future for everyone, through a transparent and shared process.
People, front and central
Perhaps the most recognizable effect of the current revolution is the so-called “Industry 4.0”, a complex system composed of industrial automation, digitalization, and new technologies that enable better work conditions, create new business models, increase productivity, and improve product quality. However, it has perhaps an even greater impact on culture and on the way we interpret work. It entails a redefinition of the role played by “human resources” or “human capital”, as they were called up to a few years ago. Today, these expressions are being replaced by the simpler and fairer term, “people” – a choice of words that is not simply a formality. In a scenario where automation, the digital dimension, and artificial intelligence are taking over increasing space, it is crucial we turn our attention back to people, as the real protagonists of this change.
People have the duty to lead the transformation: it is their prerogative to define the trajectories that should be followed on the road to the future. While technology offers increasingly sophisticated tools to gain advantages and profit, only people have the cognitive skills to bring ideas and visions to life. Only the human mind has the creativity and empathy that allow us to orient growth and development towards sustainability and inclusion. Only human beings can see the whole picture and act according to a collective understanding that holds us at the center of the perspective.
Well-designed human-machine interaction creates a winning system where both sides focus entirely on what they do best.
People are irreplaceable in the development, training, and management of machines – which in turn excel in speed, strength, reliability, and efficiency, on top of their crucial capability to gather, analyze, and process huge amounts of data.
Technology not only provides technical and practical support to workers, but acts as an accelerator for their professional growth:
as machines – thanks to people – become increasingly able to carry out “heavy” tasks, workers have more opportunities to focus on training and developing more specialized and fulfilling skills. Indeed, some experts now interpret “manpower” more as mental power than physical strength.
The concept of Digital Humanism clearly expresses the centrality of people. The name effectively synthetizes this age in history: humans are the engine and target of every activity; digital instruments are the tool and language through which this central role comes to life and communicates. Digital Humanism recognizes the unique qualities of every human being and leverages technology to amplify their potential. As people take back their role as protagonists in the productive scene, we must focus on the value system that drives them.
Only by clearly defining this aspect, can we bring everyone together to commit to a shared goal.
Power is in our hands
Any functional relationship is based on dialogue: this is true also between coworkers (at any level and between different levels), and between a company and the broader community around it. If we are able to make the values that drive our work more shared and tangible, we can also strive to build a world in which respect, transparency, closeness, and fairness are irreplaceable and necessary, not only for us but also for the social context in which we are immersed.
More than ever, we have a duty to feel we are part of something bigger than ourselves. We know our work has an impact on the territories where we are active, on the people who live near us and, more broadly, on the planet that is our home.
For this reason, we feel a strong responsibility to put people at the center of our commitment and to dedicate all of our energy to building a future in which people can express their full potential – not in spite of their differences, but thanks to them – with the passion no machine will ever be able to feel.
The latest issue of Power Line, the magazine of the Prima Industrie group, is entirely dedicated to human centricity. Read it here