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Stepping inside Alice’s mirror

Alice is taken into an amazing world by climbing into the looking glass. We use technology to step into an amazing new world. The image is the cover of a series of books on tech evolution I wrote many years ago. The wonder has not gone away. Graphic art: Marco Nebiolo

Alice was in front of the looking glass and found herself climbing into it and wandering into an amazing new world. Today we are doing the same, using technology evolution as the ladder to climb into the digital world.

The problem is that, like in Alice’s dream, it is getting more and more difficult to distinguish what is real and what is not. Actually, we are not even sure if we can say that digital is different from reality. We are going to discuss these issues in the new White Paper on Digital Transformation that will be taking a 360° view to tech, economics and societal aspects, as part of the 2020 work in the Digital Reality Initiative.

The reason for this post is to stimulate participation to this work. If you want to be involved drop me your contact through the comment space (i’ll keep it private if you wish so).

In this new post series I would like to wet your appetite on these issues and involve you in this work. The more people we can get on board, the more flavours we can include in the White Paper.

The area of Digital Transformation is really broad, since it is expanding to cover any aspects of economy and of our lives and it is raising new issues that we did not encounter in the last century.

At the core is this fuzzy sense of reality, and this might seem strange since what could be more easily separable than reality and digital artefacts? Yet the problem is in the feedback loop: we use tools (real ones) to create a digital artefact and so far so good. That is an artefact,

However, this digital artefact may feed back into reality (think about augmented reality bringing digital artefacts back onto the real world). Our understanding of the real world changes because of those artefacts, indeed how can we say that this new understanding and perception is not real?

We are concerned about fake news, news that don’t exist, in the sense of representing reality, but are created out of nowhere (a figment of someone’s imagination…) and we object to those, we are concerned of their potential impact on reality.

Yet, we are starting to use this fake supporting tools, and we like them! Think about photography. A photo should be the representation of reality at a particular point in space and time. Yet, we are using tools to alter photos, to change a rainy sky into a wonderful sunset, to remove an object from the photo. Several photographers say this is cheating. And yet, even professional photographers “cheat”. Most important, in a way, most of us cheat by removing objects, altering an expression merging different points in space and time into a non existent reality that all of a sudden becomes real.

In the following posts I will use the outline of the White Paper, still in a very preliminary version, as I said, hoping that you can become interested in participating into this work.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.