Forum Replies Created
April 12, 2019 at 19:45 #3776
Good evening guys,
I think that yesterday’s conference was inspiring. First of all, it was encouraging to see an association like SheTech, which is a response to the endemic scarcity of women in business and in jobs that have to do with technology in general. Things have been getting better over the course of the last years, even though there is still a lot to do. In particular, as we have discussed, Silicon Valley continues to be a more male-friendly environment and so things like SheTech could be helpful over there as well.
A woman that did not have trouble being successful in Silicon Valley is Alice Melocchi, who showed us that if you believe in something and you are willing to fight for it, nothing can stop you. She and her co-founders never backed down and and were able to turn an intuition into a pioneering business like MultiLab. We also have got to know about another incredible application of 3D printing, and that is producing capsules for the pharmaceutical industry.
To answer Giovanni’s question about personalized medicine I will say that such an innovation would allow to produce patient-specific pills, containing the optimal dosage they need for their condition, in order to maximize the efficiency of the treatment. And also personalized organs could be produced, so that transplants will no longer be necessary.
Have a great weekend!April 8, 2019 at 19:24 #3757
I find the discussion on 3D printing to be really interesting. I believe that this innovation, which is still in its early stages of development and usage, has the potential to transform many aspects of our lives and the economy in general.
Indeed it is going to be much easier to produce very quickly virtually everything, from high-tech components to body parts and to food. Of course at the beginning it is going to be extremely expensive to use 3D printing for mass production and a lot of people could lose their jobs, as noted by some of you. We could also object that such a method of production does not necessarily guarantee quality.
However, in my view, 3D printing should be introduced in a gradual way, as a complement to more traditional ways of producing goods. For examples, cars and airplanes will most likely continue to be built in large factories, however many of their components could be produced by 3D printers.
As far as the issue of job losses, I will say that, as many of you have suggested, there will be new and possibly better employment opportunities linked to 3D printing. In general, automation increases productivity and spares humans from particularly hard tasks, like in production chains. So it is legitimate to worry that robots and in the future 3D printers might put people out of the workforce, however if there is a good strategy new jobs will be created and productivity will increase.
To conclude, I find the use of 3D printing to produce food to be particularly interesting and useful, especially given that it will become impossible to feed every person in this planet. 3D printers will be able to recreate, for instance, meat in a much more environmentally substainable way. In this regard, I found a Silicon Valley startup called Impossible Foods that, even without using 3D printers, is able to produce 100% vegetal hamburgers which have the exact same aspect, taste, consistence and smell of normal burgers: https://www.ft.com/content/0f44365e-5785-11e9-a3db-1fe89bedc16e
Fascinating, isn’t it?
Have a great night!April 2, 2019 at 23:40 #3735
Good evening everyone,
I must say that today’s conference was really enlightening and it was great to hear somebody as experienced as Mr Della Porta talk about innovation.
As he mentioned, innovation is not just an option for businesses, especially nowadays: it is the means for their survival, in fact a good criterion to distinguish between a successful company and one which is not is the % spent on R&D. And it is very important to understand that innovation is not only crucial to large high-tech companies, it is indeed very important for small and medium businesses, as explained in the article mentioned by Margherita. Of course it is an extremely long and expensive process, however the future payoffs are definitely worth the cost.
For a country like Italy, whose businesses are mostly small and medium, as noted by Mr Della Porta, it is therefore crucial to invest as much as possible in innovation in order to remain competitive in a globalized world. Unfortunately there are countless obstacles, such as an incredible amount of bureaucracy, taxes to pay and often what lacks is the right mindset, which should consist in thinking big, being risk-oriented and having a strong ethical attitude.
I was impressed by the flexibility of SAES, a company able to switch from producing certain products to completely different ones in a short period of time, possibly thanks to the ability of forecasting what will be required by the market in the future.
I have to disagree with Margherita in regards to education in Italy, in fact this article (I found it only in Italian) tells quite a different story : https://www.eunews.it/2018/10/16/istruzione-italia-gli-ultimi-della-classe-europa/110139. The issue is that Italy is one of the countries in Europe which invests less in education and research. The European Commission, and I quote from the article, recommended that “research, innovation, digital skills and infrastructure should receive much more funding”.
So, once again we see how important innovation is in every sector, starting from education.
What are your views on this?
Have a good nightMarch 22, 2019 at 22:59 #3679
In my opinion what makes those who work for Google and other companies in Silicon Valley happy, productive and creative (and I hope to find out more about this when visiting during the tour) depends on the way such companies were born. Typically, they were founded by young people, in a garage or in a college campus. Now they are huge corporations, however they still put great trust in talented young people, by giving them high paying and satisfying jobs, straight after graduation and often while they are still studying. This is, I believe, one of the greatest lessons that Italy could learn from the experience of Silicon Valley.
Then, of course, there is the whole concept of the workplace, which becomes like a home away from home for employees, who are not just components of an assembly chain. On the contrary, they are valued as unique contributors to the advancement of the company. They are directly involved in important decisions and they feel a deep sense of belonging. In other words, they are stakeholders of the company, which heavily invests on them in turn for their hard work.
However, there is a big issue in Silicon Valley, and that is the fact that there continues to be an incredibly high level of sexism and there are considerably more men who work there than women, as documented in this article: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/17/sexual-harassment-silicon-valley-emily-chang-brotopia-interview.
What do you think could be done about this? How is it possible that in such a modern environment there continues to be the problem of gender gap?
Have a great weekendMarch 20, 2019 at 0:16 #3642
I’d like to jump in the debate on Amazon. Its birth in the late nineties paved the way for e-commerce and, in my view has been a revolution comparable to the arrival, especially in Italy, of large supermarkets in the 1960s, while before there were shops for every category of product. The key was convenience: it became possible for people to do their shopping in one place without having to stop by numerous stores throught the city. Amazon has made things even easier by allowing people to buy products without even having to leave their homes.
Of course groceries (food in particular) and a variety of other goods continue to be purchased today in physical places (and by the way, look at this “grab and go” Amazon store in Seattle: https://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/no-lines-no-checkout-no-problem-amazon-s-new-grocery-n839756), however a lot of stores, especially bookstores, are closing down because of the incredible success of Amazon. You can order a book online and have it delivered at home, so why bother going to a bookstore and waiting for them to take care of the purchase, maybe at higher prices?
In the United States, the country that invented shopping malls, a lot of them are closing down because of the lack of costumers. Something to be pointed out is that in this way the interaction between costumers and storekeepers is lost, as well as the function of shopping malls as places of socialization.
Another aspect of the Amazon phenomenon is that, despite being an enormously profitable company, it has been able to pay virtually no taxes at all, at least in the US. In 2018, despite making 11.2 billion dollars in profits, it did not pay a single dollar in federal taxes. That is one of the reasons why the people of New York refused to host a new Amazon HQ, considering that the city would even have had to pay some incentives for that (See story:https://7dnews.com/news/amazon-cancels-new-york-hq-pays-minus-1-income-tax-in-2018). Even President Trump expressed his criticism for the way Amazon acts, by tweeting: “Amazon pays little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the US), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!”.
In the future there could be an antitrust intervention given the immense power the company has obtained. People are going to debate the extent to which e-commerce is substainable without taking away too many jobs. And then of course there is the issue of automation in the production of many goods, but that might be the subject of another discussion.
At the end of the day, consumers are going to decide what is best for them, as Jeff Bezos synthetizes in this phrase: “Whatever regulations are promulgated, that will not stop us from serving customers. Under all regulatory frameworks I can imagine, customers are still going to want low prices, they’re still going to want fast delivery, they’re still going to want big selection.”
What do you think about all this?
Have a great nightMarch 16, 2019 at 17:28 #3593
wow a lot of interesting suggestions so far.
First of all, I’d like to share with you something I’ve found out about Facebook being used in a dangerous way. The other day, the attacker who killed 49 people in a mosque in New Zealand was able to livestream on FB his actions. A lot of people watched the live video and congratulated the attacker. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that such social media, as well as You Tube and others, has been used to spread violent contents and by terrorist organizations to lure in more recruits. Here is an article on the subject: https://www.recode.net/2019/3/15/18267048/new-zealand-attack-facebook-streaming, where Mark Zuckerberg is quoted saying: “We don’t check what people say before they say it, and frankly, I don’t think society should want us to. Freedom means you don’t have to ask for permission first, and by default, you can say what you want.” In this case he was referring to the allegations that FB had been heavily used by Russia to interfere in the 2016 US election by spreading fake news. His responses have always been, in my view, very disappointing. Of course he is right to defend freedom, however such freedom does not mean that users have a “license” to post any kind of content, especially when they are abusive and endanger people’s lives. There are certain boundaries which should not be crossed. It is not enough to “prevent the abusive content from becoming viral”. Such content shouldn’t have been posted in the first place.
I should also mention the issue of Big Data, which has been raised by Giovanni. As it became clear following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, information from millions and millions of profiles has been used for political purposes in order to create targeted ads. Similarly, businesses have used FB to increase their profits and, again, to conceive custom-made advertisements.
In short, Facebook was invented to connect people and to eliminate barriers. Now its users are being told who they should vote for, what they should buy and who they should be friends with and dangerous content is shared too easily. Not to mention the incredible quantity of misinformation and gratuitous insults.
If it is impossible to impose better regulations or to even put it under public control, our best choices are to use it in a more careful way or to stop using it altogether.
What is your point of view?
Enjoy your weekendMarch 14, 2019 at 15:48 #3577
I find Musk’s project to build high speed tunnels in Las Vegas and in other cities to be really interesting. Moving people quickly and efficiently will be one of the great challenges of the future, as cities all around the world are getting more and more congested, especially in the US, where the car culture is still very strong. We need political leaders with clear visions for the future and who are willing to invest a lot in environmentally sustainable projects which will pay off in the long term, rather than looking merely at the short term.
In regards to the debate about regulations on Facebook, I have found this article: https://theconversation.com/why-not-nationalize-facebook-93816, where the author suggests, perhaps provocatively, that we should look at nationalizing Facebook. This is indeed a radical idea, however the author has a point in saying that FB has become a public infrastructure, comparable to roads, water, etc., and that it is very difficult to impose effective regulations on it as long as it remains a for-profit company.
What are your views on this?
Have a good dayMarch 13, 2019 at 10:04 #3568
my name is Paolo Giovanetti and I am a third-year student of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Pavia. I am from Alba, in Piemonte.
First of all I’d like to thank the university and Paolo Marenco for giving us this amazing and unique opportunity.
I really like what I am studying; in particular I am very interested in the politics and the economy of the United States, a country that has always fascinated me. And Silicon Valley is a pillar of American entrepeneurship and of the American way of looking at the world. And so I am eager to get a first-hand experience of that reality, of which people talk a lot about without knowing too much about it.
It would be an opportunity to do something different from usual, to challenge myself and to get to know the place where a significant part of modern technology was born.
Coming to the article on Elon Musk, I would say that he has always been an unconventional CEO, and so we should not be surprised about his use of Twitter in order to play with the price of Tesla stocks. This controversy brings me to mind the fact that in the US there is now a president who has been acused of tweeting too much and in inappropriate way. In fact, he has been called “Tweeter in chief”. And this is a sign of the world we live in, where diplomatic, political end economic decisions appear to be taken via Twitter, something which would be interesting to reflect upon.
To conclude, here is a recent article by CNN: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/03/11/tech/elon-musk-deadline-sec/index.html, where Musk’s lawyers affirm that the SEC might be threatening his freedom of speech by forcing him to limit his use of Twitter.
What do you guys think about this?
Have a great day,