Digital: “Machines have no ethics”

Artificial intelligence is a question older than you think! With the appearance of the first computers, from 1955-1956, researchers are looking into this question.
A challenge, explains Jean-Gabriel Ganascia: It is by applying a scientific method, cognitive psychology (study of all the intellectual faculties, memorization, communication) and transposing it to the world of objects that scientists have been able to understand the “intelligence” of these computers and robots.

If these new machines have no ethics strictly speaking, continues Jean-Gabriel Ganascia, this does not prevent these machines from interfering with our world: “The world in which we live is then transformed by their presence and the relationships between men are disrupted: the social fabric, friendship, trust, reputation, all of this is being rewritten with digital technology”.
That there is no “computer morality, that’s obvious” affirms the professor, on the other hand “we can force a machine to act according to a certain number of rules, first steps towards a new form of servitude, a virtual servitude…”

“Machines, objects like no other”

All these machines, continues the philosopher Pierre Cassou-Noguès have a specificity: “The result depends on the relationship that we have with them”.
Can an app that defines your mood by analyzing the sound of your voice, for example, influence your life? For the philosopher, yes. “The way we consider Artificial Intelligence determines the success, or not, of this machine” at the risk of regulating one’s life on the functioning of an object. A paradox perhaps!
But can a machine be benevolent, as the title of Pierre Cassou-Noguès’ book suggests, and “monitor us for our own good”? Isn’t it a bit scary to imagine that robots can take over as sometimes in fantasy literature?

Robots to live in peace but also to wage war

In 1945, Georges Bernanos wrote “La France contre les robots”, a work published immediately after the war, a period conducive to progress even if the latter was not without consequences. These wartime techniques appeared after the atomic bomb, a time when science showed that it could produce the worst… as well as the best” concludes Pierre Cassou-Noguès.
Science is therefore all-powerful for the guests of Livres & vous, and you have to know how to master it. A lesson drawn from reading Georges Bernanos that is still good to follow today in the era of combat drones that are transforming contemporary wars into wars without soldiers.

Find the entire program “Livres & vous” here.

“The benevolence of machines” by Pierre Cassou-Noguès – Ed. du Seuil
“Virtual servitude” by Jean-Gabriel Ganascia – Ed. du Seuil

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Digital: “Machines have no ethics”


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