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La Voce e il Tempo

Robots? Don’t worry, they won’t steal jobs from humans

Torino, April 15, 2018

By Fernanda Bianchetti

A few months ago, in Seattle, Amazon inaugurated a store without cash registers, therefor not needing personnel. The news went around the world and the enthusiasm – manifested with long queues that made the initial idea of saving consumers time ineffective – it quickly turned into the question: what about humans? Cashiers were replaced by a complex system of cameras and sensors, guided by artificial intelligence. So, are robots ready to replace humans?

In recent weeks even, Pope Francis expressed himself on the “Data age”.  Today’s day and age is increasingly driven by big data and robots: “May humanity be the center of the economy, technology must protect life”. It is possible, and in Italy there are many that support this, using leverage on meritocracy and man-machine alliance. In Turin, for example, there are those who are transforming these new scenarios into employment opportunities, explains Fabrizio Fantini the founder of “Evo Pricing”, a startup specialized in predictive analysis founded in London and then “duplicated” in Turin.

“Artificial intelligence is changing the way companies are managed, our job is to define a sort of ‘autopilot’ based on the big data, but we can demonstrate that even in a dynamic world like ours, alone an algorithm is less powerful, without human intuition,” explains Fantini, who assures: “Robots and artificial intelligence are not stealing work away from humans”.

The Davos meeting presented Accenture’s study on artificial intelligence and work. This study was done by interviewing 1,200 top managers and workers from a dozen countries, including Italy. The documents show that by 2022, artificial intelligence will improve business revenues by 38 percent and increase employment by 10 percent.  However, there’s one condition: companies will have to update their current business models and promote training for employees and consultants. «In the coming years, the companies that will grow most and hire more people are those who will be able to innovate with artificial intelligence before their competitors» assures Marco Palminiello, partner of «Evo Pricing».

This is also confirmed by the e-work agency, which estimates an increase in professionals related to the world of robots and artificial intelligence, equal to 10-15 percent. But often resources are lacking: these professionals are new and those who are abroad and specialized earn more. «We also find it hard to find some resources» admits Fabrizio Fantini «for example, in Italy we found more reliable and valid female data scientists and data analysts, than we did males. It’s also difficult to find Italian computer programmers, proficient in big data». Despite this “Evo” is the example of a virtuous and capable startup able to seize the opportunities in the working world. Starting from the collaborations with universities – in particular the University of Turin – in which the international team, led by Fantini is expanding, thanks to the experience of professionals like Palminiello, providing students with hands-on training and real job opportunities.

The world has changed since we started our business and the choice to open a branch in Turin, Italy, proved to be successful, despite some of the criticality in our beautiful country. “Four years ago, you could count our team on one hand, growing in parallel with the interest for these innovations applied to the economy” adds Fantini “now we are in 29 and we have also hired people in Italy, thanks to benefits and fundings from the Jobs act to public tenders, passing through the Patent box». These are some of the means that innovative companies have been able to count on, but not in the last three years. In the meantime, the technological field of action that is in place, knows no limits.

Machine learning, for example, is a very fascinating topic with unquestionable potential but sometimes it is mythologized. “A child takes a lot less time to comprehend the difference between two objects or to recognize, for instance, a banana compared to a robot.  Whereas, a massive amount of data is required, including all possible and imaginable types of fruits or objects in question» assure the «Evo Pricing» experts. This is a simple but effective and reassuring example.

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