"What we are witnessing these years isn’t a simple revolution: it’s a second leap forward for humanity". Marco Bentivogli, since 2014 national secretary of the FIM, the Italian metalworkers' federation CISL, talks about his new book Contrordine Compagni. Manuale di resistenza alla tecnofobia per la riscossa del lavoro e dell’Italia (Handbook of resistance to technophobia for the rescue of work and Italy) (Rizzoli). "After the steam engine, new technologies now represent a cognitive enhancement, and I knew how important it is to explain them. People's lives are changing and an awareness, rather than fear, needs to be established. This book is an educational and cultural process, a guide to the next leap forward and to the frontier spirit necessary to face it".
To the fear of those who claim that innovation will simply cancel employment, Bentivogli opposes a model in which man is freed from work, reducing fatigue and limiting repetitive and alienating tasks, widening the spaces in which to field their own intelligence and imagination. Machines, the national secretary writes, will not necessarily destroy but rather improve work and, with great probability, will create more in turn. If you put aside the easier reasoning and information aimed at technophobia for a moment and empirically project yourself into the impacts of new jobs, you will notice that the industrial system has always progressed at various speeds: today it is clear that struggling companies, which do not invest and lay off, are precisely those most distant from innovation.
“Recent OECD data confirms this trend. Over the next five years, the 4.0 economy will generate 133 million new jobs, while wiping out 75 million. This is why it is essential to invest in training; it is not by chance that in the latest metalworker contract we have included the subjective right to training; but this is not enough: we need to reform the whole training system from the perspective of long life learning ", Bentivogli explains. "Defending the status quo to the bitter end is therefore meaningless: the future is decided and planned thanks to the ability to find and experiment new solutions, not by thinking of individual temporary tasks as a horizon and avoiding the short term blackmail in which politics are confined".
The defense of the existing is meaningless: the future is decided and planned thanks to the ability to find and experiment new solutions
An inversion that regards the praise of divergent thought, of future designers able to read these new identities and to reconstruct a world at the service of the projects of mankind, who is the only one that cannot be replaced by algorithms of artificial intelligence, the only one capable of re-examining acquired truths in order to innovate pre-established knowledge.
If, on the one hand, the affirmation of innovations is making mankind stronger, on the other hand individual, moral growth, in terms of skills, planning and governmental change abilities, doesn’t seem as speedy.
“This does not allow us to understand and use technologies wisely. And this is a critical aspect that we must surely face, a challenge to roll up our sleeves to seize the opportunities and reduce the risks” Bentivogli says.
Contrordine compagni provides an alphabet that allows the reader to better read the transformations taking place in the world of employment, a successful attempt explain technologies to those who don’t quite get them. Algorithms, Industry 4.0, blockchain, coding, Internet of things, robotics: a didactic but also technical view that makes the leaps forward in the world of work accessible. With the charts, we learn how work in the Industry 4.0 model has changed compared to a Fordist one: from the mass worker to the more creative, from fixed working hours to smart working but above all from low to high skills.
“It is not a utopia to think of working less for the same salary," says Bentivogli. “We are already trying smart working to reconcile quality of life with work productivity. We need to start over, immediately, from a competent and positive approach to technological innovation, from a revival of school education and training in the workplace; from new intermediate bodies, such as smart unions, that know how to guide through the changes underway”.