Sciuto: in the field of innovation, technology is not the only key factor

Professor Donatella Sciuto, Vice Rector of the Politecnico di Milano, talks in the Corriere della Sera about possible futures and technology forecasts

“I do not think that, if we had a computer a million times more powerful, we would be able to develop systems of artificial intelligence closer to the human intelligence.”

We too are inclined to see things in the same way as Donatella Sciuto, Vice Rector at the Politecnico di Milano, speculating in an editorial in the Corriere della Sera entitled “Un elogio alla velocità” (In praise of speed)". Spoiler: speed isn't always good. To manage it we need to invest in human capital: in the great “game” of innovation, the stimuli that come from society, culture, science, politics and in general from the ecosystem of human activities are crucial as technology..

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Credits: Wired Trends

To systematize all these elements and anticipate technological change (but, above all, to estimate and direct its impact on the world in which we live), the Politecnico di Milano has recently inaugurated the Technology Foresight Center, an instrument of specialized skills and networks of academic and industrial experts, both national and international, which have the dual objective of elaborating technological development forecasts and providing useful indications to support public and private investment decisions.

 “Over the past fifty years, the number of transistors available on a chip of the same size (the basic element of digital operations) has doubled every eighteen months, following ‘Moore's law’, which in 1965 empirically predicted the increase of processing capacity over time,”

says Sciuto.

Biotechnologies and life sciences, energy, artificial intelligence, mobility, new materials: these are some of the most urgent research fields in which the speed of technological innovation tends to grow exponentially. “Usually, the impact of a technology is overestimated in the short term and underestimated in the long term,” explains, in a video-lesson to the Alumni, Professor Cristiana Bolchini, lecturer at the School of Industrial and Information Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano and member of the scientific committee of the Technology Foresight Centre. “Because it is not easy to get an idea of the interdependence [of technology] with the social, political, environmental and economic aspects.”

With an important focus on sustainability targets targets shared on a global scale, the Technology Foresight Centre asks, continues Sciuto in the Corriere, to what extent it is possible to “anticipate technological change, estimate its speed, dissemination capacity and impact..” Answering these questions becomes even more urgent today, in view, concludes the Vice Rector, “of the major investments in progress. The country is facing an unmissable opportunity. Starting with digital infrastructures, to green technologies, investment in research, technological innovation offers us great opportunities. We must be capable of seizing them under three conditions: act quickly and effectively, stay in the race in the long-term and focus on the value of human capital, which is the real enabling factor for any change.”

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Credits header: Photo by NASA Space Shuttle missions. on Unsplash