the innov(e)tion magazine n. 3
The AI Factor


In ancient Greece “making” was divided into two aspects: the work of peasants (prattein, praxis), and that of craftsmen (poiein, poiesis). In both cases there was a direct relationship between the sphere of work and that of life, a connivance so close that for someone of the times it would have been incomprehensible to separate a person from his work, the realization of the self from good poiesis (o praxis), knowledge from know-how. In such a situation it was not yet possible to conceive of two separate spheres and spaces: the workplace coincided, physically and psychologically, with the place of existence. And this condition held sway until the beginning of the industrial age. In fact, in his fundamental book The Craftsman (Yale University Press, 2008), Richard Sennet says that for the craftsman his workshop is his home, and that in the past this was literally true. This reciprocal relationship between domestic life and craft was decidedly interrupted by the paradigms of industrial economy. Today, however, some post-materialist economies have begun to recuperate it and, together with the ethic of work, to rehabilitate the idea of craft workshops as a space for living. This new co-involvement of private and professional spaces is one of the most notable consequences of the “immaterial” revolution which most of us are experiencing in this part of the millennium. As happened with the artisans, artists, and scientist-philosophers whom Sennet spoke of, today it is not unusual to find examples of this reconciliation of the working place and that of feelings. This, self evidently, did not come about by chance. Thanks to the new contribution of increasingly cheap and efficient technologies, the new creative professions have freed themselves from the need to root themselves in places distant from their activities when they are not working. And so the idea of an office in an anonymous factory on the outskirts of town loses its sense, and this is so basically for two reasons: because what is asked of professionals is a work culture expressed through creative models of knowledge and know-how; and because knowledge and know-how need stimuli that the anonymous and endless spaces of factories cannot offer. This leads to a progressive contamination between domestic and professional environments: the place becomes a profession and the profession becomes a place, thus creating a landscape of hybrid architectures, a blend of fluid spaces, in place of the Fordian model of single, separate, and impermeable contexts. In this sense we can talk of the revenge of craft culture which, by being half-hidden, has survived the tsunami of industrial capitalism: an ethical and economical model (in the sense of oikos: home or family environment) in which there still continues to live the original complicity between the sphere of life and that of the workspace. If my work is recognized as a social value distinguishing me from others and restoring uniqueness to my person, then this uniqueness is transferred into a space, into a domestic workshop that has the contours of my own personal world, into somewhere that says something about me. The I.A. – the Industrial Artisan - of the future, must today follow this route: that of the Craftsman’s home-workshop.