Printed: 2019-10-15

Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies





IEET Link: https://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/campajet1201403

Workers and Automata: A Sociological Analysis of the Italian Case

Riccardo Campa


Journal of Evolution and Technology


http://jetpress.org/v24/campa1.htm

February 17, 2014

Abstract: The aim of this investigation is to determine if there is a relation between automation and unemployment within the Italian socio-economic system. Italy is Europe’s second nation and the fourth in the world in terms of robot density, and among the G7 it is the nation with the highest rate of youth unemployment. Establishing the ultimate causes of unemployment is a very difficult task, and the notion itself of ‘technological unemployment’ is controversial. Mainstream economics tends to relate the high rate of unemployment that characterises Italian society with the low flexibility of the labour market and the high cost of manpower. Little attention is paid to the impact of artificial intelligence on the level of employment. With reference to statistical data, we will try to show that automation can be seen at least as a contributory cause of unemployment. In addition, we will argue that both Luddism and anti-Luddism are two faces of the same coin. In both cases attention is focused on technology itself (the means of production) instead of on the system (the mode of production). Banning robots or denying the problems of robotisation are not effective solutions. A better approach would consist in combining growing automation with a more rational redistribution of income.

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Riccardo Campa Ph.D. is a fellow of the IEET, and an associate professor of sociology at the University of Cracow. He is the author of Epistemological Dimensions of Robert Merton’s Sociology and Il filosofo è nudo, and the founder and president of the Italian Transhumanist Association.

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