CosmoCaixa – February 19th
The previous Industrial Revolutions have not only transformed the way work is organised and carried out but also ended up generating new forms of employment. Will this time be different? CosmoCaixa was the site chosen to examine these topics on the 19 of February. It began with the talk “The Impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution on the Job Market”, which clarified a few concepts. The featured speakers were Aleix Valls, former General Manager of Mobile World Capital, and Marc Vidal, an expert in digital transformation.
The dialogue began with Marc Vidal’s contributions on work life: “If we want to know what we’ll be doing at work 20 years from now, we’re asking the wrong question”. According to this speaker, we should be asking what we’ll be doing to live life. It is essential to change the verb work for learn, because as he stated: “In the future, we’ll be going to work to learn”.
Then, Aleix Valls examined the consequences of having jobs that will be lost due to robotics. As an example, he cited the possible disappearance of clerks in supermarkets, with the need to find a way to re-employ these workers. “We’ll have to see how many manage to overcome this reinsertion challenge”, he said.
To conclude the talk, the speakers addressed the younger audience members by saying: “The job you’re imagining doesn’t exist. Fifty percent of companies that exist today won’t be around in the future. So, you have to study what you love”.
At the end of Valls’s talk, Francisco Miranda and Ricard Faura offered a presentation of the “Benchmark Centre in Mobile Training Programme”.
After that, the president of Dones en Xarxa, Lourdes Muñoz, addressed the topic of the role of women in the new technologies and presented the project entitled “ICTs are ours”, which seeks to empower women through technology.
Lourdes Muñoz stressed the need to achieve equality between men and women at work, in politics and in the digital world as well. “Women have to be in all phases of the value chain of the technological process, and not only in the marketing or communication departments”, she said. This is because the programming phase is when relationships with technology are created, and if women are left outside this cycle, they will once again become passive subjects, this time in the sphere of technology.
The debate “Robots, Companies and My Job” was moderated by Joan Jofra from 4YFN, and the participants were Pepa Sedó, director of the Robotics and Automation Unit at EURECAT, and Leire Martínez Beitia, project manager at Medical Robotics at Tecnalia.
The debate started with a statement by Pepa Sedó in which she claimed that “the key” lies in the interaction between robots and people. At this time, we can have robots which are capable of doing jobs in cooperation with other robots and with the assistance of a human. The speaker believes that this will only increase and that the change will take place gradually, with time for adaptation. However, she warns younger people that they will have to be flexible; reindustrialisation entails a radical change in factories and the worker profiles will be different to the ones we know today.
In contrast, medical robotics is not a threat to healthcare professionals because they are a complement which help offer a better service, as explained by Leire Martínez. One example she cited was the innovation in technology which will allow the mobilisation of the body parts of people who have suffered from a stroke. This intervention poses a risk, but if the overall outcome is positive, then it is worth the intervention of robots, the speakers concluded.
After the debate on robotics and work finished, the dialogue “The Future of Human Work in the Digital Age”, moderated by the journalist from Expansión, Martí Saballs, began. The participants included Jordi Serrano, founder of the Future for Work Institute; Joan Closet, a digital humanist; Mar Gaya, a consultant and psychologist; Daniel Raventós, a PhD in economics and full professor at the University of Barcelona; Mar Alarcón, founder and CEO of Social Caro; and Sara Díaz, operating director of training and innovation at Barcelona Activa.
Jordi Serrano began by reflecting on the phases through which work has gone, first reaching globalisation and offshoring and then automation. He commented that “the next step is the generation of collaborative economic platforms, without setting aside ethics and philosophical reflection”.
Next, Joan Closet suggested a paradigm shift by stating that “in the future, the issue won’t be having a job but being employable”. There will be people with stable jobs, but the majority will be freelancers who will work on different projects.
From a gender perspective, Mar Gaya mentioned that if we bear in mind that technologies are created by people and that the majority of programmers are men, then “we can say that technology is indirectly taking on a male role”. For this reason, it is important to break with the stereotypes and segmentation of interests by gender starting in early childhood education.
Daniel Raventós expressed his scepticism with this Fourth Industrial Revolution because it is making the job market even more unstable. He warned that “one of the most worrisome things is that it is endangering not only unskilled jobs but also highly skilled jobs”.
Related to steady work, Mar Alarcón examined the tendency to have different sources of income, and she stated that in the future, there will be no need to ask what people’s jobs are, but instead we will ask what their sources of income are.
Finally, to conclude the session, Sara Díaz reminded the audience that Barcelona is an appealing city for start-ups but it lacks skilled labour, so companies have to look abroad for talent. She also said that “it is essential to foster talent and scientific-technological vocations among youths”.
The Sarrià – Sant Gervasi district was chosen for the LABS devoted to different themes: beginning with “Surprising Animations with Scratch” held in conjunction with Sagrat Cor de Sarrià, which lent its venue, and the Scratch Project; the workshop entitled “Build Your Own IoT Server at Home with a Raspberry Pi”, which was held at the CC Casa Orlandai in conjunction with Tarpuna; and finally, “Initiation into The Things Network”, which was held at the Vil•la Urània Civic Centre space in conjunction with Tarpuna. They were all led by Xose Pérez, a graduate in Physics who works freelance on IoT and home automation projects. A workshop entitled “Undulations and Artistic Figures from Vibration” was led by Dr Marco Antonio Pérez, who is currently in the Industrial Engineering department at the IQS, which lent its space for the workshop.
During the week, the workshops led by Xose Pérez encompassed different concepts. On the one hand, animations with Scratch allow us to use a visual programme to create stories, games and animations and share them with everyone. The second proposal was based on building our own server with a Raspberry Pi. Finally, the last one revolved around learning how to connect a LoRaWan sensor to The Things Network (TTN) to check data from different sources from home in real time with the workshop introducing participants to The Things Network.
The fourth LAB in the district was held at the IQS, and it was based on experimenting with the values of vibration frequencies in order to learn the design of structures in engineering, with the Chladni experiment on plates to visualise the sound waves on a material and identify its own frequencies.
Saturday the 24th of February was Mobile Kids Day. It began at the Vil•la Urània Civic Centre space, where children aged 7 to 12 were able to enjoy the workshop entitled “Slow Tag” in which the Tarpuna association participated. This game is devoted to changing the way ‘tag’ is played using a small electrical circuit with a sensor sewn into a hairband or a shin guard and with a small buzzer that buzzes if someone moves too quickly or suddenly in order to rein in their movements.
During Mobile Week Barcelona, on the 22nd of February the documentary “The Next Black” was screened and presented by the Feed Dog Documentary Film Festival on Fashion. Digital haute couture? Fabric dyed without a single drop of water? Textiles fermented in green tea and yeast? Reflecting on the technological advance in fashion, all of these questions were projected at the Vil•la Urània Civic Centre.
Mobile Week Barcelona enlisted the cooperation and support of different organisations and institutions to expand its activity programme, increase its impact and encourage different stakeholders in the city to participate. In the Sarrià-Sant Gervasi district, a talk was held organised by EINA, University Art and Design Centre of Barcelona, on the future of technology.