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Digital Innovation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Epochal Social Changes?

Loris Caruso

According to the main representations of Industry 4.0. by private and public institutions, its effects are expected to be mainly positive, for what regards productivity, economic opportunities and the future of work. The positive potentials now attributed to the new cycle of innovation evoke and expand those attributed to the previous waves of innovation linked to ITC technologies, and, even before, to the transition from Fordism to Post-Fordism. However, these transformations have so far not achieved any of the promises they raised. Improvements for workers in terms of work conditions, work performance and work relationships cannot be determined by any technical innovation in itself, being technological innovation always socially shaped.

Type: Journal Article
Year: 2017

ITC technologies have come to comprehensively represent images and expectations of the future. Hopes of ongoing progress, economic growth, skill upgrading and possibly also democratisation are attached to new ICTs as well as fears of totalitarian control, alienation, job loss and insecurity.

Currently, with the terms Industry 4.0. and ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution” (FIR), public institutions (such as the national governments of Germany, Us, Italy, France, and Hollande), private institutions (the World Economic Forum, Hedge Funds, commercial banks), and literature refer to the inchoate transformation of production of goods and services resulting from the application of a new wave of technological innovations: interconnected collaborative robots; machine learning; Artificial Intelligence; 3D printers connected to digital development software; simulation of interconnected machines; integration of the information flow along the value chain; multidirectional communication between manufacturing processes and products (Internet of Things).

According to the main representations of Industry 4.0. by private and public institutions, its effects are expected to be mainly positive, for what regards productivity, economic opportunities and the future of work. The positive potentials now attributed to the new cycle of innovation evoke and expand those attributed to the previous waves of innovation linked to ITC technologies, and, even before, to the transition from Fordism to Post-Fordism. However, these transformations have so far not achieved any of the promises they raised. Improvements for workers in terms of work conditions, work performance and work relationships cannot be determined by any technical innovation in itself, being technological innovation always socially shaped.

Caruso, L. (2017) 'Digital Innovation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Epochal Social Changes?’. Artificial Intelligence & Society: Knowledge, Culture, and Communication. DOI: 10.1007/s00146-017-0736-1

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News

10/01/2022

SNS announces 14 fully-funded PhD positions

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The Faculty of Political and Social Sciences at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence, Italy is pleased to announce 14 PhD fellowships beginning on November 1, 2022.

16/07/2021

Prof. della Porta to lead VolkswagenStiftung-funded ECSEuro project

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Reflecting the European challenge of transnational cooperation and multiple crises, this project asks how local political initiatives across Europe enact citizenship and solidarity and contribute to the vision of a more democratic Europe from below.

09/07/2021

SNS announces 7 fully-funded PhD positions

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The Faculty of Political and Social Sciences at the Scuola Normale Superiore announces 7 fully-funded PhD positions. Deadline for applications: 21 August 2021.

28/09/2020

Four post-doctoral research positions on the pandemic

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The Scuola Normale Superiore announces four post-doctoral positions to be activated as part of the research project “After the coronavirus pandemic: The effects of the health emergency on society and knowledge.” 

26/02/2020

CFP Athens conference "Capitalism, Democracy, Contention: A Decade of Crisis" 13-15 May 2020

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Aspiring to shed light on the Greek experience in the era of crisis in a comparative, inter-disciplinary perspective, the Laboratory on Contentious Politics (Department of Political Science and History, Panteion University, Athens), the Centre on Social Movement Studies (Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence) and the Hellenic Political Science Association are organizing an international conference to be held at Panteion University, on 13, 14 and 15 May 2020.

12/12/2019

Prof. Donatella Della Porta to Be Awarded Honorary PhD

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On Friday 13, 2019, the University of the Peloponnese (PSIR) will award an honorary doctorate to Professor Donatella Della Porta, Dean of the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences at the Scuola Normale Superiore.

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