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I was born at the dawn of the third industrial revolution, that of electronics and computers. Among the reasons that made my childhood different from others was that I liked Disney comics a lot and Japanese cartoons very little.

I only remember one, Mazinga. I used to watch that one, I still remember the theme song, and it is so present in my memory that I named my domestic assistant after it:

Whose full name would be iRobot Roomba 671: but for me, precisely, it is Mazinga. As the artificial ally of us humans.

The first time I heard about the Internet Of Things was from a student of mine, Austrian, or maybe Swiss, certainly a computer engineer. I was fascinated by his visionary passion, combined with the calmness with which he anticipated some changes that will affect our future daily lives for the better: mainly due to the effect of this ‘Internet of Things’ (IOT), i.e. the ability of things to talk to each other. All things, not just those we today define as technological. In short, all things will be smart – and so not even this word will matter any more, it will simply be the norm.

It would then be the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In an article in the Guardian in 2015, it was actually said that 10 years from then, everything could be connected to the internet of things. And while it is easy to see this happening at least for means of transport, household appliances, boilers, air conditioners and so on, it is not so easy to imagine the same happening with more traditional objects. Will the fork, the knife and the bed sheet also be able to connect? And to tell each other what?.

On 20 August 018, Pandora magazine published a review of Internet of Things (Il Mulino 2017) by Paul Greengard.

In it, some global figures are noted.

There are 7 billion people.

There are 12 billion devices, fixed or mobile, connected to the Internet.

But there are as many as 1.5 trillion “connectable” objects.

And in this leap between 12 and 1500 billion lies the measure of the sector’s potential. Another article notes that by 2020 there will be 20 billion connected devices, so it’s going pretty fast even if it’s not exactly a boom (and perhaps the knife and fork will be left out, at least for now).

The most obvious problem, however, is that if this Fourth Revolution takes place a lot of people will lose their jobs, since those jobs will no longer be needed.

But I don’t see this as a bad thing: if a profession can be carried out by a machine, maybe it means that it is not really a great way to express oneself. Humans could be encouraged to move more and more towards what can NOT be done by a machine, what is peculiarly human. And fortunately for me, I believe that among these irreplaceable professions, i.e. destined to survive the digital invasion, there is also that of teacher.

In an interview in Repubblica on 14 October 018, Alessandro Baricco and Ian McEwan reflect on the possibility that humanity itself may end up changing, moving closer to the characteristics of machines. But perhaps the opposite could also happen.

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