GRANDSTAND. For a digital and AI ministry – Sciences et Avenir

GRANDSTAND. For Laurence Devillers, professor of Artificial Intelligence at Sorbonne University/CNRS, president of the Blaise Pascal Foundation for mediation in mathematics and computer science, the French have not yet become aware of the major impact of digital technology and artificial intelligence in their daily life. Impact that will only increase. This is why she pleads, at the time of the presidential campaign, for the creation of a ministry of digital and AI, in a forum that she sent to Science and Future – Research. This member of the National Pilot Committee for Digital Ethics, which our readers and Internet users know well, explains the fundamental issues of this technology, both in terms of new professions, ecology, and ethical and even philosophical questions for our societies. .

For a Ministry of Digital and AI

What society do we want to build for our children? A society moving towards humans augmented by AI like that of the United States, crossed by the wave of transhumanism? A surveillance society like in China? Or a company whose AI respects people?

everyday AI. AI systems have experienced a real boom in recent years thanks to the increasingly large size of data corpora, and increasingly sophisticated algorithms on the cloud. AI is omnipresent in our daily lives: social networks, facial recognition, metaverse, chatbots (“talkative” bots) or even robots. Thanks to machine learning, clues, weak signals that a human cannot see, are identified within billions of digital data (big data). Masses of digitized information are thus processed at inhuman speeds and magnitudes.

AI and the common good. The French have not yet become aware of the impact of digital technology and AI on their lives, nor of the underlying geopolitical issues. They don’t know enough about the innovative power of these tools and the attractiveness of the new professions they generate. We can only see the confusion caused by AI: the machine would define its own objectives and robots would replace humans, resulting in a lack of free will, the dilution of our responsibilities, the risks for living together, the good common and our democratic values.

AI, socio-technical object. We need a government with a vision of research and industry on the subject of digital and AI to launch positive innovations that respect our values ​​in France and in Europe. AI is one of the rare areas where private and public research are advancing together. We have incredible resources in the laboratories (CNRS, INRIA, CEA): the most advanced skills in machine learning, quantum, cyber security, human-machine interaction, but also in human and social sciences. We must use these multidisciplinary resources and set up public-private ecosystems to set up disruptive projects. Without forgetting that real economic wars are already taking place between industrialists and lobbyists.

AI and energy expenditure. The energy expenditure of digital and AI is enormous and should increase: 4 billion people are connected to the internet and social networks. Facebook alias Meta is 18 years old! We store more and more of our data: our photos, our emails. Digital requires the extraction of rare metals, imposes energy consumption whose true cost is not known, and enslaves a low-wage workforce, which annotates data collected all over the world. It is not only necessary to educate children from college on computer code but also on the underlying algorithmic and philosophical concepts. Not to mention energy costs and ethical issues.

AI and new professions. New professions will appear: data analysts, AI designers, AI trainers and evaluators, data ethicists, AI monitors, business managers, etc. AI can bring remarkable progress: detecting the first signs of cancer in X-rays, finding a vaccine or better managing the therapy of mental illnesses. It could also help to better manage planetary resources. Digital and AI are beginning to be used to monitor environmental risks through the analysis of images recorded by cameras or satellites. It is for example possible to make profitable agriculture without pesticides by combining agronomic science with digital and AI technologies allowing responsible and optimal management of sowing and harvesting, soil verification, disease monitoring and optimization of types of crops. planting. This holistic vision and the pooling of observation data can provide many solutions for developing responsible agriculture.

AI and metaverse. A European metaverse creates the opportunity to develop virtual societies with a European economy and culture in a decentralized internet (web 3.0). It is possible to imagine a metaverse with democratic access to culture and science with virtual reality experiences around ecological transition, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning or around innovation in education . The metaverse concentrates the classic ethical questions of the digital world, but it also raises new ethical questions about the human-machine relationship: manipulation of our emotions and beliefs in virtual/real cross-effects; physical and mental vulnerability in real-time immersion. Immersion, in fact, makes you forget the constraints of the real world, so it is important to have a red stop button and to have AI rules.

Geopolitical and security issues on AI are at the heart of the attention of the United States, China and Europe. In France, a digital and AI ministry would be needed to develop a long-term vision and major projects such as a European metaverse, preventive medicine thanks to AI, an inclusive smart-city and an AI ecosystem. responsible for ecology.

By Laurence Devillers
. Professor of Artificial Intelligence at Sorbonne University/CNRS, appointed member of the Global Partnership on AI on the future of work and of the National Pilot Committee for Digital Ethics (Conversational agents: ethical issues, 2021; Research ethics in machine learning, 2017), president of the Blaise Pascal Foundation for mediation in mathematics and computer science.
. Author of Vague IA at the Elysée, L’Observatoire, 2022; Emotional robots, The Observatory, 2020; Of robots and men, Plon, 2017.

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GRANDSTAND. For a digital and AI ministry – Sciences et Avenir


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