Artificial intelligence, the invention of printing at the origin of the speed of change

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In our present, which is so complex and difficult to describe, there are also those who try to overturn the patterns. In a classroom of the Catholic University particularly crowded with young people, but also with authoritative scholars of many dimensions of knowledge, a seminar entitled “The speed of change. How technology, scientific discoveries and pandemics have marked the development of the human mind” began to unravel a skein that will accompany us for a long time and which leads us towards the topic of the themes of our times: artificial intelligence. The seminar was organized by Almed, the high school in media, communication and entertainment, but the driving role was played by Stefano Lucchini, the chief institutional affairs and external communication officer of Intesa Sanpaolo who pulled the strings of an intense debate which was attended, among others, by the magnificent rector of the Cattolica, Franco Anelli, Mariagrazia Fanchi, director of Almed, Ruggero Eugeni, director of the master’s degree in Media relations and business communication, and then Ciro De Florio, professor of Logic and philosophy of science at the Faculty of Economics and a very young manager, like the CEO of iGenius, Uljan Sharka, so at ease talking about Ai.

The reversal of terms

What intrigued the magnificent rector Anelli was the subtitle of the seminar which «reverses the terms of the problem. For years we have been taught that the human mind is the engine of development. In fact, it is the human mind that adapts the environment to living conditions, we have transformed the environment to live better in it. With a series of repercussions and aspects that were not foreseen. The mind changes things, this is the idea we have had in mind since the Greeks.”
Today, however, Anelli observes, «we have to deal with paradoxes. The more the latest scientific discoveries progress, the less we understand each other. The ancient world and ancient physics explained a world that men did not understand because they did not know the cause and effect relationships. Then explanations of the phenomenon began to be given. Today, in reality, the ultimate frontier of science teaches us as objectively as possible that we are heading towards irremediable and deeper uncertainties.” Almost as if the world we have created in these six or seven centuries will shape us.

The press and the speed of change

With an agile leap back, Lucchini takes everyone to 1450, because it was then that «the invention that most revolutionized the last millennium occurred, which we owe to a gentleman who was a goldsmith in Mainz: Johannes Gutenberg. He was responsible for the introduction of movable type which led to such a revolution and an absolutely extraordinary speed in the subsequent change”, interprets Lucchini. Looking at what happened afterwards, it was «those 50 years between 1450, with the arrival of the Bible printed by Gutenberg, and 1500, which experienced wars, schisms, revolutions, which brought the speed of change in the eras following. If 400 years had passed to get from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, 200 will be needed to get to the Enlightenment. This speed is attributable to movable type, to printing.” Knowledge leaves manuscripts and enters manuals, it is democratized and «new systems are born and burn out in a short time. The speed of change is also in communication.”

Cognitive artifacts

Professor De Florio, reflecting on the word speed, recalls that «when you study physics in high school, you learn that we don’t feel speed, but we feel accelerations. When the train brakes or starts we notice it but we don’t perceive the speed itself. Today we are feeling a sense of acceleration. Is world history really accelerating? Or is it illusory?” he asks. Focusing on the fact that «accelerations such as printing in the history of man are almost always due to greater interaction with cognitive artifacts, i.e. with those devices that are capable of increasing and improving our cognitive performance», he takes us to intelligence artificial which today represents “one of the major discontinuities in the history of man’s relationship with change”.

The point of no return

AI, says Sharka, is a topic that «we must deal with. It started with great noise, also unleashed thanks to the leverage of knowledge and has created an effect in the economy that scares man because it aggressively implements a series of concepts. The first concept is the further democratization of knowledge. It’s just a tool, but it’s important to know the architecture of change behind a tool that was invented by man. The challenges today are the integration and certification of knowledge. For Italy, AI is an opportunity to emerge. i Genius has kept its head in Italy because we believe that Italy must and can reinvent artificial intelligence. Compared to a dystopian vision, such as that of American entrepreneurs, there may be a middle ground where, with the simplicity of the Renaissance, man can be put at the centre, in order to be able to deal more safely with the impact of this technology in our lives. It becomes essential to push a culture and communication that explains these technologies much better.” Certainly, concludes Shakra, «the greatest risk is to ignore this technology, thus risking finding ourselves in a dystopian world where few men will tell the machine to manipulate knowledge. Today, understanding the speed of change means improving our future. We are at a point of no return.”



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