The fourth industrial revolution is transforming very important aspects of our lives, and many of these changes can be perceived as a risk. In this sense, the professor of the University of Alicante, Javier García Martínez, King Jaime I Prize for New Technologies and member of the World Economic Forum in his lecture “Ethics and Innovation: For an industrial revolution by and for all”, Within the XXIX Permanent Seminar on Economic and Business Ethics made by the Étnor Foundation – Foundation for Business Ethics and Organizations- which took place yesterday, Monday, March 9 at 7:00 p.m. at the headquarters of the Valencia Bancaja Foundation.

García Martínez highlighted “that aspects of the fourth industrial revolution are changing as important and sensitive as the way in which we inform, relate and communicate and therefore have a very important impact on the way we buy, think and vote. New technologies, too, are redefining employment and wealth creation. So it is understandable that many citizens can perceive all this as a danger to their future. ” The UA professor insisted that new technologies provide society with powerful tools to which we must act responsibly. “The industrial revolution must be by and for all citizens and cannot treat us as digital foreigners,” he explained.

“We have been naive, said the professor of the University of Alicante, thinking that thanks to new technologies we would be more connected and better informed. The reality is that the internet has favored the proliferation of all kinds of false news and fanatical and absurd ideas. ” And, in this sense, he pointed out that “the only antidote against post-truth is a critical and responsible attitude towards information.”

Check for democracy

One of the points that the speaker insisted on was the loss of decision-making capacity due to technological advances. “The introduction of new technologies in all aspects of our lives is imposed on us without really being able to do much to avoid the consequences it has on our privacy and on the use of our data.” “We can hardly operate in this new time without giving up important plots of our freedom and even of our privacy. Every time citizens cannot decide on aspects that affect them so directly, the quality of our democracy is reduced, ”he said.

However, this is not the only threat that García Martínez pointed out in an industrial revolution in which citizens have very little to say. “The deepest danger is that process automation and industrial intelligence will destroy the jobs that support the middle class. In recent years, we have seen how the middle class has been losing weight in many developed countries, due to the relocation of companies and the precariousness of many jobs. Without the middle class there is no democracy or welfare state. If technology is perceived not only as distant and incomprehensible but as a threat to our standard of living and our employment, citizens will vote for political options than populist (that is, they promise easy solutions to difficult problems) or nationalist (which they promise to protect the citizens of a country against foreign companies and workers). This is not a forecast of what may happen, but the reality that we are already living in the most developed economies. ”

New entrepreneurial model

In addition to these ideas, the professor of University of Alicante He detailed some opportunities for the coming years. In this regard, he mentioned that entrepreneurial scientists, that is, those researchers who dare to commercialize their discoveries, are going to be the great agents of transformation of this century. “Many of the problems we face, from climate change to new diseases, have solutions in science. But making the discovery is not enough. In addition, it is necessary to make it available to everyone. In the past, this process has been very slow since there was – and in fact still is – a gap between academia and industry. But there is a new generation of scientists who are bringing their discoveries closer to everyone by licensing their patents or creating new companies to market their innovations, “he said. “Many of the great discoveries that are made in laboratories around the world, are left in a drawer or at best in a scientific publication. If we could bring these solutions to the people who need them, we could all benefit from the great contributions that scientists make to our well-being and the environment, ”he added. García Martínez then commented on his entrepreneurial experience at the head of Rive Technology, the company he founded when he worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and that has just been acquired by the multinational Grace.

Personal commitment

Javier García Martínez He ended his intervention by describing a personal decision he has made with the aim of helping young Spaniards develop personally and professionally. An example that each person, individually, can help to improve the lives of others. “I have always missed a program in Spain that helps the best young people in our country to make their projects come true and that constitutes a talent network on which to grow. Thanks to Jaime I Prize, I was able to make this dream come true. “With part of the award I founded Celera, a totally free three-year program that gives resources, opportunities and training to 10 young people every year. After 6 years, Celera has already helped 60 young people to make their projects come true, to grow professionally and to become part of a community that helps them develop, ”he explained.

The president of the Étnor Foundation, Enrique Belenguer, opened the session with the idea that “new technologies must be humanistic to guide our society towards a sustainable horizon for all.” The vice president of Étnor and president of the Confederation of Cooperatives of the Valencian Community, Emili Villaescusa, introduced the rapporteur and moderated the debate.

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