Living among smart machines


“Virtual Services”, by Jean-Michel Janacea, Soil, “Open Science”, 282 pages, €21, digital €15.

“The Favor of Machines. How the Digital Changes Us Without Our Knowing”, by Pierre Cassau Nogues, Soil, “The Color of Ideas”, 332 pages, €23, digital €17.

They monitor and report on everything. Weather in a Moment, Better Way Home, New Album We Like. They also manage calendars, address books, and income and expenses. They take our pulse, count our steps, filter our messages, and watch our homes. It is impossible, or nearly impossible, to live apart from the universe they built, with our constant complicity and sometimes surprising submissiveness. Talking to friends, shopping, paying taxes, working in an office is now almost out of the question without the middleman of screens, apps and passwords. Intelligent machines are on the way to being ubiquitous and ubiquitous. So it became common to discuss their powers, beneficial or dangerous.

This is where Jean-Gabriel Janacea comes in, keen to discredit many of the claims. Professor at the Sorbonne, specializing in artificial intelligence and author of dozens of books on the nature, influence and myths of our robots, presents this time, with virtual easement, To set some clock in time. Because too often, in his eyes, the analyzes focus on imaginary threats, but they remain silent about the very real dangers they don’t even see.

Read also This article is reserved for our subscribers Freedom of expression in the digital age or the difficult quest for balance on social networks

Multiple ethics committees compile reports and warnings. In fact, they blow the wind. Their calls for respect for dignity or privacy often miss the mark, even with projects clearly coined by Elon Musk (Tesla, etc.) or Mark Zuckerberg (META), which would reduce everything to free individual choice, eliciting no vigil. Jean-Gabriel Gancia paints an intelligent and educated picture of these paradoxes. In passing, he also emphasizes political risk: “If Europe does not bring itself together, the organizing idea of ​​sovereignty, on the basis of the rule of law and political philosophy, (…) Already so much undermined by the big players on the web and authoritarian empires like China and Russia, it will just disappear. »

Flat screen awareness

Philosopher Pierre Casseau Nouges, professor of philosophy at the University of Paris VIII, also approaches the world of intelligent machines, but from another angle. He is looking for what transforms, day by day, under their influence, in our personalities and moods, in our relationship to the world and to ourselves. By invoking contemporaries in turn – notably Foucault, Derrida and Zyjk – and imaginary devices, his analysis in detail shows that we are increasingly entrusting applications and their algorithms with the role of informing us of our feelings, desires and projects. Machines, good or bad, watch us from the inside as well as from the outside, in danger of seeing them replace « inner life » of yesteryear, and its countless mazes, consciously in the form of a flat screen.

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