Luca Tesauro, the value of people and trust

You are Unisa, once again, giving valuable opportunities to its scholars. A small group had the pleasure of interviewing the eclectic and intriguing Luca Tesauro, an example of excellent professionalism and creativity in the Salerno area. Let’s get to know him better.

Face to face with Luca Tesauro

If you could steal one characteristic from the new generation, what would you steal?

The freedom to be able to travel. The world today offers you infinity, and young people are fortunate in being able to take advantage of this opportunity. I would certainly steal that freedom of being able to explore oneself around the globe with more ease and fewer obstacles.

What, on the other hand, do you think our generation lacks compared to yours?

The not being connected, being just disconnected from everything. You miss that one! The fact of doing nothing, seeing nothing, or maybe seeing only one thing at a time. The fact that we do not have time to reflect on who we are. There is too much distraction, too much information, an overload of everything. I think you guys spend hours on your cell phones, don’t you! I have to do that for work, too, and it’s something that weighs heavily on me after a while, so I look for my moments, like in the morning at 6:00. This is somewhat lacking in my opinion. In fact, I think it’s a good business to be in “disconnecting”: Nokia, disconnecting people! I was reading it in Salerno, someone made a mural there. One thing that helps me a lot is to have two minutes of silence, close my eyes for a while, and it clears everything up. The other theme is the lack of focus and concentration, the extreme switching from one thing to another. Today’s day as well: it started for me at 6:00 a.m.

But then what time do you go to sleep if you wake up at 6:00?

Last night, after Napoli at midnight I was angry, if not usually at 11:00 or 10:00 and I wake up at 5:00, 6:00, sometimes even 4:00. It depends on the days, the thoughts, because sometimes the brain turns on at 5:00, and that’s the best time, where you’re you, quiet, in the dark, before the light comes on, that you’re in that phase where you’re going to live one more day. There, the energy you can create, alone, without doing anything, is enormous.

Of your speech, I was struck a lot by the fact that you put a lot of emphasis on people over ideas. I sensed the trust you choose to give to those who have a project and decide to turn to you. I wondered then: how much does a person’s resourcefulness weigh against a visionary and potentially viable business idea? Between the two, which one do you think matters more?

Instinct, which is a key element for me, tells me that we have to go back a lot to the people, who are the ones who then make the ideas. Ideas arise regardless, but trust is in my opinion the key issue. A theme I also proposed at the festival several years ago. Work a lot on confidence, in oneself and in others. This is something that, in my opinion, can save much of the technologies as well.

In your opinion, what are the difficulties and opportunities of combining Cultural Heritage, and Culture more generally, with digital innovation?

There are several possibilities. You met Hamlet (Picerno Ceraso), who must have told you about how he used 3D printers to reproduce museum artifacts. This is a classic example of how to use technology in the field of Cultural Heritage. We filmed a movie in Pompeii, having school children in Pompeii film a play based on Aristophanes’ play, “The Birds.” The play is available now on Prime and Discovery+; a docufilm has been made of it, and now we are shooting the second one.This is technology, in the sense that you have a theatrical form, within an archaeological context, and we have made a docufilm. Now we have made a new format in which the kids tell about the excavations, and another docufilm will come out of it. What is the technology? In this case it is Amazon’s platform; it is a different way of telling that thing.

Does the concept of knowing how to communicate always apply?

Yes. But there are also some crazy technologies. For example, 3D reconstruction of everything can be done in excavations.Education is very important, that is, how you educate about the past through technology. Many experiments have been made with virtual reality. What new technologies will help in Archaeology I do not know, because I do not know the field very well. I have friends who are archaeologists working, one though is in London, the other I can’t remember where… it’s still a lot of research work, study, contact with the earth. Technology can give you a hand in better understanding–but you always better understand the History, what you found. Perhaps artificial intelligence could be useful in this field to connect multiple digs at once and have shared information, perhaps make faster translations of manuscripts. I was reading that recently they made another major discovery in Pompeii, I think I read it yesterday — whatever, I mean, wherever they dig there they find something. Perhaps technology can help us understand everything underground in Pompeii (ironic). It is useful for technology to know beforehand where and what to dig, that is. Optimizing time. What is the question? That History should be preserved; indeed, it should be enhanced. As you say (Valentina Caroccia), it is an important tool…however, jobs go in another direction. If I were to tell you the demands for positions in the job market, and you see the profiles in demand, archaeologists are not at the top. Perhaps in that case technology skills or technology itself can be components that help find jobs. I couldn’t tell you, because I don’t know the market segment…however, it’s complicated. That it is necessary, that is. You choose this path out of passion, I guess? And so keep doing that, for the time being don’t think about the rest. However, there is no doubt that the humanities part also serves technology; integration between the two is necessary in my opinion.

On the subject of communication, we were struck, in perusing the Giffoni Innovation Hub website, by the emphasis on less institutional language to better connect with young people. Is there a risk of debasing the issues addressed, cultural or otherwise, with language that is too simple and uninstitutional?

We usually bring kids together with companies and institutions to always achieve positive contamination. The languages have changed a lot in the last 5 years. In my opinion, at this historical stage, communication languages and channels are changing too fast, and companies are often disoriented and fatigued to keep up. It is no longer about the type of language (institutional or informal), but how the perspective of things is evolving. Creatives are the right graft to connect young people, companies and institutions in a balanced way with value.

Giffoni Innovation Hub deals with various issues. How does the Innovation Hub diversify its interests and activities? What are the social, economic–even geopolitical–factors in the complex historical phase we are experiencing?

This is a good, complicated question. From the planning side, our interests are in creating jobs in the South. We started from this problem: if you go and check the national employment index, Italy is very bad in terms of youth unemployment, in the South and in Campania even worse.We started from this data and how to improve it, creating training paths so that the skills that we provide to young people, can be used in the world of work. Right now we are doing a master’s degree on the engine area, a software used to make 3D models, etc., as well as doing other training paths. What does this have to do with jobs? Very little; we are talking about such a complicated issue that we are only suffering the consequences of, because companies are investing less, because of the various crises that are currently there and overlapping. From a business point of view, we are facing, therefore, a risk. On current issues — like political issues, we don’t deal with them. Social issues, on the other hand, we do, depending on the projects. We are currently doing a project on leukemia, youth depression, with a film that is doing very well. We also choose themes based on what our expertise is. We could also interact on a geopolitical level, we don’t do that, but we could, example: One of the topics we are dealing with is how to bring energy sustainability to countries like Qatar, through our partner companies and multinationals like Eni, Enel and others from France and Norway, by creating events there where young people talk about sustainability with companies that are dealing with it internationally, in a country that is changing geopolitically like Qatar in relation to gas prices etc. etc.; this for now they are not doing it yet, but we plan to do it. For now we cannot do that because we need a team of people of a certain level. We are doing very well in some countries, with foreign companies; we also have good relations with the Italian government, which recognizes us as an important entity. We are also strengthening our role in Europe with the European Commission…these are useful elements that help to make us known internationally. So what could we do in the future? In this you have to help us. We expect young people like you to get involved with their own projects and ideas. In summary, we are responding to the main problem, which is to help solve the problem of youth unemployment in Campania, but we also have to turnover, because otherwise the company doesn’t move forward, and then we have to understand contemporary issues and deal with issues like this. It is not easy.

We Italians are wont to say that we have so much cultural, archaeological, and artistic heritage in Italy, but that we do not know how to properly exploit it, as is the case abroad. Advice for those who would like to invest in the ‘cultural sphere?

I was born in Naples, lived in the historic center, in the midst of churches and in the midst of a huge historical heritage. Now Naples is becoming: the Scudetto, Maradona, stuff to eat. It sucks. I was just talking about this with a RAI journalist, Ettore di Lorenzo, with whom we are doing a production on some historical figures who passed through Naples, such as Filangieri, Vico and others. The problem is how you tell things in my opinion. For example, if you go to Instagram you can see a guy telling about Neapolitan sayings and words. He is so good that he even had praise from the city of Naples, because he tells a part of Neapolitan culture as it had never been told. How you tell things is a key thing: language, communication is key. The assets we have, it’s not that we don’t have them, but the problem is how they are discovered. I love Paris very much, I follow a lot of certain things about Paris and people who tell Paris differently. In Paris, I don’t know who’s been there, but it’s a city where you can go 1,000 times and discover 1,000 billion different things. But it’s like that for any place: explore Campania, Puglia, Basilicata-any region in Italy has 3,000 things to see. In my opinion, storytelling is what we should do a little better, and we could do it a little better than others. Instead, we experience too much massified tourism. There comes that tourism that quickly goes around the stores, goes there and eats fried pizza and so on, I’m talking at least about our region. This is a good theme. I would work a lot on communication, in my opinion that is the best language, and then also for family activities, because there are not many in my opinion.

In the end this is what the Neapolitan has to offer, precisely because it is what people want, in quotes. People who watch Naples want that: the Scudetto, the food, Maradona, they no longer think about the great actors like Eduardo Di Filippo, Massimo Troisi…

I met Maradona. I was lucky enough to experience the Naples of the first Scudetto. My father is gone however I think: now Napoli wins the Scudetto and the first thought goes to my father. I, however, will not go to Naples to celebrate because it will be an unlivable city that day.

His question, however, was more related to the fact that we do not exploit a huge asset. In any country you go you pay for anything, whereas here in our country you don’t pay for churches, if I’m not mistaken. There is a business about everything, and we lack a little bit of American-ness, a business view of some things, but it’s also part of being Italian a little bit.

Yes, in fact the typical phrase of us Italians abroad is: I paid to visit a church, a monument, but if I go to a random Italian region I can see more beautiful ones that are, however, not valued as much as abroad.

Cilento for me is paradise, and that is exploited? No. Salerno airport? A huge opportunity to make more well-organized tourist flows. Sometimes there are many elements that characterize this: a little bit of people’s mentality, there is still a lot of provincialism, there is also fear of the foreigner. There is still an unglobal mindset in this respect. This in my opinion is also a very complicated issue. Then there are also specific interests of some bad stakeholders in managing travel in a certain way. It is a difficult country this, in other countries maybe it is easier.

The only ones who seem to have managed to escape seem to be those on the Amalfi coast.

On the coast, however, the road is closed, that is. You have the space-time limit. I have a friend who has a hotel in Praiano, small, now working in tourism. He is managing a whole series of projects that to try to improve services. That is heaven. Those who come to the coast, and they come tourists even to have 3-day weddings of $100,000 a day, have a very different target audience.

In the course of your speech you repeatedly talked about creativity, integration, internationalization and so on. At the same time, however, you have presented a number of projects and ideas that have started from you and go to involve this new technology that is artificial intelligence as well as , for example, the latest project developed on youth depression can find a solution in artificial intelligence, thinking about it. Don’t you think these two things can come into conflict? For example, artificial intelligence and creativity, artificial intelligence and integration. If so, how do you think you can strike a perfect balance between the two?

This is a very complicated question because it is an issue that several, millions of people are pondering. Governments, religious institutions and companies are also thinking about it. So this is a very complicated question. The theme is really trying to figure out how to navigate this fairly crazy flow. Every day I see new software being born on this, so the issue is that, in my opinion, there is a part of people who are using technology to integrate better solutions, as I was citing what Bambin Gesù is doing that has put together various hospitals to collect more data, and there are instead those who are exploiting this to make an app, perhaps, to take work away from creative people, from designers, although that is another very complicated issue.

So I don’t have the answer because the question is too complicated at this historical stage where there is still a lot of disorder about it.

I reformulate. Betting on artificial intelligence, in some ways, runs the risk of trapping what is the mechanism behind Giffoni. That is, in the sense, we use this new technology, we do something new however this thing can harm something old that is still growing though. That is, isn’t he afraid to “make his own shoes”?

Our job as innovators is to use consciously and the real secret is just that, which is to try to work with the old, with a humanistic, naturalistic logic of certain principles that I think will always remain sound with respect to an evolution that you can’t stop. It’s not that you can stop artificial intelligence, how do you stop it. So between Terminator’s Skynet and the global revolution of the human being fighting with the club against the machine, Giffoni’s role is very complicated because partly we educate kids to use technology in a conscious way, and on the other hand technology progresses no matter what you decide. This will be a hyper-complicated topic but for everyone. So the question is very complex, the answer even more so. However, it is an interesting topic this.

Perhaps innovation will lie in finding the answer to that very question?

Yes, we have to be good, even for those who study this, to understand how to orient others. However, I see too much stuff that is coming out nonstop but everywhere. I inquire from time to time because I read a lot of projects. Just this morning I saw 20 other startups born on this stuff here alone. They do more or less the same thing though in 20 companies that are also doing…I don’t know.

God bless us.

On the subject of Giffoni Film Festival, Luca Tesauro is as precious as a Wes Anderson character and as magnetic as one of Sorrentino’s. There is a sense of creativity in the room when he is there. Spontaneous, multifaceted, and bold. Conversation with him hymns freedom: no boundaries, no limits, only experimentation and a desire to conquer the world.

Edited by:

Andrea Parisi, Mafalda Ingenito, Marco Crocamo, Serena Li Pizzi, Simone Bove, Valentina Caroccia