Bang on time like the summer hit song that spins in our heads until late autumn, the list of recommended books to take with us on vacation is back again. On vacation at the seaside, in the mountains, in the hills, for Ingenium readers the holidays become an occasion for thought and in-depth analysis in the company of a good book on a topic of interest, such as the digital world and innovation.
What books shall we pack, then?
This book must be browsed and read not just to understand what we are talking about when we use the term AI or Artificial Intelligence, but also in order to understand how much we already use this technology and, precisely for this reason, how important it is to cultivate the awareness required to understand its risks and opportunities. “The book – writes the former Head of the Italian Data Protection Authority Francesco Pizzetti in the foreword – is not so much a guide to the future as a stimulus to today’s men and women to do their part, knowing that their task is not just to comprehend what is happening, but to understand the new world in order to be able to find the ways and rules to allow the men and women of today, but above all those of tomorrow, to be and remain masters of their own humanity, managing to live the typical contradictions of human beings to safeguard their free will”.
A collection of “naive ideas” as the author defines them, to develop a policy, in an information society like Italy, capable of combining green (environmentally-friendly, circular and sharing economy) with the blue of digital economy. A mix of colors transformed into naive ideas, i.e. “not in the sense that they are without the cunning of reason, of the clever calculation of convenience, or of opportunistic cynicism, in the evaluation of power. But that they are intentionally emptied, a posteriori, with disenchantment, but without chagrin”. Ideas made naïve so that they can simply make their way into the political agendas of decision-makers and of civil society which can then promote the need to foster a way of living together which centers on the quality of relationships and processes, rather than on consumption and things.
“The internet is invaded by fakes”. The statement, contained in the first pages of the book, accompanies the reader not only in order to understand the mechanism of the famous fake news, but also of bots, i.e. the machines which help their dissemination. “Behind a fake user – we read in the book – there could hide a person in flesh and blood, who pretends to be someone else in order to perform specific actions; with noble intentions, such as the promotion of rights, or fraudulent ones, ranging from defamation to stalking, to manipulating discussions. When instead, there is not a human being but an algorithm behind the fake account… a software programmed to carry out a task with a very specific objective, analyzing the circumstances and independently deciding which action to perform”. Through stories of discovered and identified fake people and interviews with hackers and professionals in the industry, the authors help to understand the challenges faced by those who create false identities and those who try to neutralize them.
“Most of recorded human history is one big data gap.”. The opening sentence contained in the book’s foreword already reveals much of this book which, through concrete examples, aims to make people understand how the absence of gender data, the gender data gap, may have contributed and still contribute to the construction of an unjust world, which puts women in a difficult position. “My thesis – writes the author – is that the gender data gap is both a cause and a consequence of the type of non-thought that perceives humanity as almost exclusively male. I will show you that even in this super-rational world, increasingly run by super-impartial supercomputers, women are still very much De Beauvoir’s Second Sex – and that the dangers of being considered, at best, a sub-type of men, are as real as they have ever been”.
Last but not least, the essay on digital innovation for sustainability which aims to help the reader to reconstruct a meaningful dimension of digital transformation, never an end in itself, but which risks becoming a useless and wasteful exercise whenever it is not steered towards improving processes, the way of living and working, the world we live in. Through the story of five characters in which we can mirror ourselves, Epifani takes the reader by the hand to peek into those places where Blockchain can help to trace the wood supply chain and thus fight the exploitation of woods and forests, or the one in which, thanks to Artificial Intelligence, doctors can diagnose a disease more quickly and better, or the other in which, thanks to social network, gender inequality is brought to the attention of public opinion.