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How to Become an ExO Scientist: Realism or Futurism?

Beatrice Barbazzeni
Beatrice Barbazzeni

Interconnection, information transparency, technical assistance and, decentralized decisions are just the starting points of a transformative process initiated by Industry 4.0.  Advanced technologies and humans will support each other to foster disruptive innovation; the era of digital science is ahead of us, a generator of exponential growth and development.

Industry 4.0 represents the newest revolution in industry and consequently of our society (1). Characterized by the abundance of advanced technologies leading to computerized manufacturing, the labor market underwent consistent changes finalized to increase the production rate, a process made possible while implementing artificial intelligence (AI) automated systems supporting human work (2). However, the progressive and massive implementation of disruptive technologies replaced several jobs. Indeed, customer service executives, bookkeeping and data entry, receptionists, proofreading, manufacturing, retail services, courier services, taxi or bus drivers, and market research have been affected by AI, machine learning (ML) and robots. In contrast, other occupations have been highly enhanced, such as chief executives, editors and writers, project, sales and marketing managers, software developers, doctors,  and scientists (3).

Forecasting digital science

In this scenario, if innovation and the availability of high technology systems result from advanced research and experimentations, can we predict the future of science? In a recent publication in collaboration with Prof. Michael Friebe (4), I imagined what could be a scientists’ future and conducting scientific research, forecasting, and projecting this vision into 2035. To dive deep into the topic, I developed an online survey to investigate the opinion of scientists among several research groups and faculties at the Otto-von-Guericke University of Magdeburg (OVGU). This survey explores the feelings and approaches when implementing disruptive technologies and also in respect to the transformation that digitalization would have on scientific education and training.

From the survey results, most of the respondents were Ph.D. students and PostDoc researchers from the Natural Sciences, Medicine and Process & Systems Engineering faculties. Although the global pandemic forced the shift toward a home-working setup, this event was not so dramatic on scientific research; indeed, responders estimated the possibility of continuing their research work from remote while others were neutral to this option, influencing the future and diverse need for labs or workspaces.

Thinking ahead in 2035, scientists forecasted the implementation of AI systems to manage big data, while sharing results with global teams through channel-based messaging/meeting platforms and virtual laboratories. Moreover, inevitably was also the integration of digital skills into their scientific curriculum. Among innovative technologies (5), digital healthcare, AI (or ML, deep learning), data management/cybersecurity, environmental protection, and sustainability were the most selected and imagined technologies integrated into their research work. Furthermore, smart technologies resulted in highly helpful when improving experimental procedures thinking of quality, quantity, precision, time, and replicability. However, ethics and regulatory procedures would likely adapt and change when AI, robots, and avatars come into play. Digitalization and advanced technologies would bring undeniable advantages such as acquiring “open science” principles, a revised and interdisciplinary education, the practical management of big data, and the possibility to predict exact results based on advanced analysis and procedures (6). Nevertheless, the complexity of human and animal beings does not yet replace these experiments with simulations based on AI systems. Lastly, to embrace this transformative change enhancing development, the need for a revised scientific education, integrating more technological and digital skills, is highly predictable.

How to become an ExO scientist

To become an ExO scientist today, interconnection, information transparency, technical assistance, and decentralized decisions are the fundamental principles of Industry 4.0 that need to be integrated in a disruptive way of conducting scientific research. This vision, in which advanced technologies and humans collaborate to generate exponential innovation and growth, is already supported by these promising and optimistic results. Our ExO community was born with a very ambitious MTP: “Transforming the world for a better future.” We have the vision.We have the technologies. We have the tools and the knowledge to bring that vision into reality. We can create the future we imagine, and we can create it most efficiently. We are right at the knee of this “exponential curve,” and we strongly believe there are incredible opportunities just ahead of us. Thanks to Peter Diamandis, we possess the 6Ds that can change the world, and to Salim Ismail, we have the ExO formula to magically and successfully grow innovative, outstanding organizations.

Is it Realism of Futurism?

Now you will wonder why I titled this blog recalling art movements. Apart from the fact that art is one of my passions, these movements are always related to their historical background, social ideologies, and human expressions. Realism, born in the mid 19th century, was characterized mainly by representations of subjects and places from everyday life, rigorously painted with a naturalistic, realistic and almost photographic touch. The meaning was simply to describe the reality for what it was seen while avoiding fancy, original and supernatural elements (7). On the contrary, at the beginning of the 20th century, the Italian art movement called Futurism started to make its glorious entrance, characterized by dynamism, speed, technology, energy, power, and innovation (8). While finding its realization into a futuristic rather than a static reality, Futurism was the needed vision when imaging a modern changing world. So, is it ExO realism or futurism? ExO is not just like wearing pink glasses, but it results from acquiring supernatural eyes and a growth mindset.We are already the future located into our present. We can already generate an abundance of resources and opportunities based on our personal MTPs. My job is to lead science into this ExO process to generate disruptive growth and innovation. My publication on digital science was just the starting point of this exponential process.

Go, and change the world

Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world”. So, what are you up to now?

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1.     BMBF-Internetredaktion (2016). “Zukunftsprojekt Industrie 4.0 – BMBF”. Available at: [Accessed May 13, 2021].

2.     Jasperneite, J. (2011). Selbstkonfiguierende Automation für Intelligente technische Systeme (Industrie 4.0). YouTube. Available at: [Accessed May 13, 2021].

3.     Muriuki, P. (2021). 15 Jobs That Artificial Intelligence (Robots) Will Replace and 15 That it Won’t. [Blog post]. Available at: (Accessed June 22, 2021).

4.     Barbazzeni, B. and Friebe, M. (2021). Digital Scientist 2035—An Outlook on Innovation and Education. Frontiers in Computer Science, 3:710972. doi: 10.3389/fcomp.2021.710972

5.     OECD (2019). Fostering Science and Innovation in the Digital Age. Available at: [Accessed June 25, 2021].

6.     Börner, K., Rouse, W. B., Trunfio, P., and Stanley, H. E. (2018). Forecasting Innovations in Science, Technology, and Education. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 115 (50), 12573–12581. doi:10.1073/pnas.1818750115

7.     Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (2020, May 29). Realism. Encyclopedia Britannica.

8.     White, J. James (2019, December 5). Futurism. Encyclopedia Britannica.


Beatrice Barbazzeni

Beatrice is a Ph.D. student in Neuroscience aimed to achieve her MTP with discipline, perseverance and grit:“empower inner potential leading to the growth of exponential winners".