Insegnamento a.a. 2020-2021


Department of Management and Technology

Course taught in English
Go to class group/s: 31
PPA (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/08)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (II sem.)

Mission & Content Summary


Technological revolution is evolving at increasingly high rate, opening exciting opportunities for innovation, while raising doubts, anxieties and fear. In a little less than ten years, commerce, the tertiary, industrial manufacture and telecommunications have been radically changed by the advent of digital technologies characterized by an intra-generational development. Robotics, AI, and automation can be employed to promote sustainable growth within an intelligent, circular economic model, optimizing processes with positive, long-term impacts on everyone. However, new technologies raise several economic and anthropologic issues: namely, the progressive workforce replacement by intelligent and autonomous systems, the creation of ecologic and cognitive debts (on top to the economic debt), the inhomogeneous human development and the long-term sustainability of our social models. Understanding technology is thus mandatory to foresee problems and conceive solutions. The course aims at providing the fundamental concepts of modern technologies and their potential impact on our life.


(1) The link between technology and economy


  • Key parameters of technology and society in a global landscape
  • The human development index
  • Biocapacity vs ecological footprint per person
  • Water cycle, waste cycle and manufacturing system
  • Pros and cons of technology: economic debt, ecological debt and cognitive debt
  • Co-benefits policy: risk assessment of technologies


(2) The evolution of technology


  • 16,000 years of inventions by homo sapiens: from pottery to quantum mechanics
  • The pace of disruptive technologies: from one per millennium to one per decade


(3) Fundamentals of nanotechnologies


  • From physical mechanics to quantum mechanics
  • Seeing and manipulating atoms: how to build matter


(4) Fundamentals of electronics, information technology and digitization


  • Lithography and manufacturing, bottom up technologies vs top down technologies
  • Moore's Law and Large Scale Integration: how internet, social networks, and digital society were born
  • Cloud, 5G and the interconnected society


(5) Fundamentals of high-performance computing, storage, and data science


  • Computation, computer and brain
  • Theories, models, and simulations: from mechanical CAD to CAD of drugs


(6) Fundamentals of technology for sustainability, natural environment, and safety


  • Production systems, greenhouse gases, and climate change
  • Water, energy, natural environment, and circular economy
  • From plastic to new smart materials: the costs of sustainability
  • Nanotoxicology and epidemiology


(7) Fundamentals of technology for energy


  • Energy and energy divide on a global scale
  • Energy production systems
  • Energy saving
  • New technologies for energy (LED, solar cells and photovoltaics, fuel cells, batteries, supercapacitors, energy harvesting, etc.)


(8) Fundamentals of technology for medicine


  • Life expectance, epidemiology, local health systems, public health and health divide
  • "Omics" technologies (genomics, proteomics, metabolomics)
  • Imaging
  • Digital health
  • Precision medicine and personalized medicine


(9) Fundamentals of robotics and artificial intelligence


  • Types of robots
  • Robots and AI: possibilities and limitations of mind-body integration
  • Personal robotics: the co-existence of people and smart machines
  • Substitution of human work and new work: adjusting to innovation
  • Ethics and regulation of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems (A/IS)

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)


At the end of the course student will be able to...


  • Understand the principles and describe the new technologies  affecting modern society
  • Interpret the main links between technological innovation and economic systems
  • Understand the actual impact of technology on  local and global sustainability
  • Understand the human and ethical implications of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems
  • Identify technological trends that are impactful for future business prospects and economic development


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Compare alternative technologies in terms of their economic impact
  • Evaluate technological trends and implications of new technologies
  • Analyze existing and emergent technologies from different points of view (economic, ethical, ecological, anthropological, …)
  • Connect new technologies to strategic decisions for companies and policy makers

Teaching methods

  • Online lectures
  • Guest speaker's talks (in class or in distance)
  • Case studies /Incidents (traditional, online)
  • Individual assignments


Guest speaker's talks (in class or in distance)

A small number of technical talks from selected speakers will be organized. Students will have the chance to interact with experts of specific technological domains.

Case studies /Incidents (traditional, online)

Specific high-tech case studies will be assigned to students (individuals or small groups depending on number) for “deeper insight” studies. Discussions around relevant cases, including laboratory activities, will build a common understanding of the topics introduced by the instructor.

Individual assignments

Individual assignments will be assigned on suitably selected topics (broad, hot and cross disciplinary) as part of the final evaluation.  

Assessment methods

  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Oral individual exam
  • Individual assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)


Attendance is highly recommended for students who take this course, in order to absorb awareness of technological issues through an active approach. With the purpose of measuring the Course expected learning outcomes, the assessment for attending students is based on a final group assignment, specifically designed to measure the students’ ability to interpret and analyze new technologies. The assignment will consist in both a final discussion paper on the assigned technology and an in-class interactive presentation of the results, which will allow student to demonstrate their knowledge of technology and the capacity to apply their understanding of it to concrete business situations.


For non-attending students, a final exam to be defined will cover all the materials of the course, aimed at assessing whether students have achieved the required knowledge of concepts, of the relationships among them, and whether students have developed adequate skills for technological analysis and for proposing appropriate solutions

Teaching materials


A collection of course readings will be made available in the course website through the University’s elearning platform (Blackboard).

Last change 23/12/2020 12:02