“The Future of Science”: the success of the Digital Revolution and the future of research
On 4 April 2017, the special edition of the world conference “The Future of Science” entitled “Digital revolution: come cambierà la nostra vita”, held at the University of Milano Bicocca and organized by Fondazione Umberto Veronesi, Fondazione Silvio Tronchetti Provera and Fondazione Giorgio Cini, hosted five of the world’s leading experts in Big Data, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality.
Carlo Batini, Professor at the Department of Computer Science, University of Milano Bicocca, Alessandro Curioni, Director of IBM Research Zurich, Derrick De Kerckhove, Director of the McLuhan Program at the University of Toronto and Scientific Director of the magazine Media Duemila and of the association Osservatorio TuttiMedia, Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli, Professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, Berkeley University, and Giuseppe Testa, Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Milan, exchanged ideas on the role of information digitization, new technologies and scientific knowledge in people’s daily lives.
‘The growing diffusion of digital data generated by the Web, social networks and the Internet of Things ‒ explained Carlo Batini – allows us to create interpretive and predictive models but, at the same time, this huge amount of data has a social impact and can affect the governance of Countries.’ ‘However – added Alessandro Curioni – on many fronts, from industry to professional sectors, the explosion of data is outpacing the human ability to cope with them and understand their intrinsic meaning.’
The dangers of uncontrolled exposure to the data flow to which we are exposed in daily Internet use, as well as having an impact on our social lives and on how the administrative apparatus interacts with citizens, are changing the way in which humans look at themselves and express themselves.
‘The virtual space, occupied by the Internet – explained Derrick de Kerckhove – represents, together with real space and mental space, a third environment to manage. The digital revolution overturns the individual’s status: from autonomous, independent people with a free will, people become prisoners of data: they find themselves distributed in profiles, victims of their unconscious.’ ‘However – highlighted Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli – the Digital Revolution has many positive aspects, our society will be smarter, our cities will become smart cities, offering an easier and more efficient access to services, cars will become self-driving cars, homes will become smart homes.’
‘The Digital Revolution – said Marco Tronchetti Provera – represents a great opportunity and our Country must not be caught unprepared and, to take advantage of this opportunity, companies need to avail themselves of new professional figures, highly specialized and yet multidisciplinary. For this reason, we decided to bring the experience of The Future of Science, which since its inception has represented an opportunity for dialogue between the world of scientific research and civil and productive society, to such a symbolic place as the University, where young talents study and grow. This special edition of The Future of Science is an important opportunity to raise awareness of new challenges among young people.’