Job in the Time of Web – Interview with Massimo Chiriatti (November 24, 2014)

(This post is part of a serie on GDG Rome DevFest 2014, Italian translation available here)

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Agatino Grillo: Hello Massimo. Would you like to introduce yourself?

Massimo Chiriatti: Hello everyone. I am a technologist, blogger and expert in the digital economy and blogger for “Il Sole 24 Ore” the most important Italian business newspaper. I have a degree in Political Science and a Masters in Information Systems Governance. My primary focus is on the areas of intersection between technology and the digital economy.
You can contact me via email, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin.

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Agatino Grillo: Why did you participate in Google DevFest in Rome last November 8, 2014?

Massimo Chiriatti: The friends of the Rome Google Developer Group invited me to participate as a speaker at the morning conference where various speakers related their experiences that the new technologies and innovations are bringing to their particulars fields.

Agatino Grillo: Your speech was entitled “Work games” (here available in pdf) a tribute to the famous eighties movie “War Games” (here on Wikipedia)" and at the same time a warning that there is increasing competition between man and machine also in the workplace.

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Massimo Chiriatti: In my presentation I started by noting that more and more machines and advanced software are able to replace work activities previously managed only by humans. This began with the automation of repetitive jobs - typically: agriculture and manufacturing assembly lines in the manufacturing sector – and then changed the computerization of work with high information content: airplane ticket sales and check-ins, virtualized stores such Amazon, online banks and insurance services. The immediate future is represented by machines with predictive capabilities based on the storage of so called big-data that thanks to “abductive” logic software will be capable of making diagnose based on symptoms, for example. My provocative conclusions are that it is not convenient any more to compete with machines: rather we have to work with them to increase and multiply output and share them more equally among humanity.

Agatino Grillo: What does it mean?

Massimo Chiriatti: Nowadays technological innovations are increasingly sophisticated and less expensive so companies obviously try to replace human labour wherever possible with the work of  machines; the only areas where this is not possible yet are those related to creative work and those where empathy with other human beings still plays a vital role. So to preserve jobs or to find one it is important to be innovative, to be able to communicate one’s own capabilities, to be able to work in teams and online in communities. In other words: the middle class is destined to disappear due to this new social, economic and cultural system that is in continuous change and does not require unskilled workers but specialized talents. The Network offers us the possibility to be more visible and rapidly engaged by companies in search of our abilities. But be careful: the web allows everyone to show off their abilities thus exacerbates the competition.

Agatino Grillo: So?

Massimo Chiriatti: Before, anyone looking for work had to review the ads in newspaper or on the Web, now it is an algorithm that searches for the keywords. It is not the same thing. For years we put our CV online so that we are now in a data matrix. So when a job is matched with an application, we will be found and this will be announced by a message on our Smartphone

Agatino Grillo: What about the risk of excessive professional individualism? Is Italy ready for these challenges? Does Italy now being increasingly marginalized by big corporations?  

Massimo Chiriatti: It must be clear that the world changes despite our fears. The facts are these: large enterprises are increasing number, they are decentralizing e and have a shorter life. From 1988 to 2007 they have doubled, we have gone from 25 million to 50 million companies worldwide. These are also the benefits of globalization, which are often overlooked, because often new jobs are not created in our territory. The key drivers of this trend are the falling costs of both the transport of goods and information, both processing and storage. In other words: money has always been moved where it will yield maximum profit and today it moves where there are the best minds, not where labor costs less or in a defined area. We have mistakenly still the idea that companies are very old but it is not so: the biggest enterprises are born about ten years ago; at this rate try to imagine what - and especially who - will be starting up companies in the next decade. Now capital - and technology – find opportunities in start-ups and little companies even created by a single talented person.

Agatino Grillo: Thanks Massimo

Massimo Chiriatti: Thank you all

Slides of Massimo at Rome Google DevFest 2014

  • Massimo Chiriatti, “Work Games”, Google DevFest 2014, Roma , 8 novembre 2014 (pdf, 14 slide, 790 K)

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