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“It's time for digital technology to realize its social power”

“It is time that technology no longer thought of itself as a tragically functional simple tool. »Magictorch / Ikon Images / Photononstop

Tribune. What is going on in our machines? This question was that of engineers; it is now that of each of us. Everywhere, algorithms and calculation come to equip our ways of living with a double search: acceleration and fluidity. To put it in daily terms, the GPS optimizes your route, the automatic input suggests words, etc. The entire technological apparatus is stretched towards this spatio-temporal fluidity.

But who could believe that this does not rub off on our lives? Fluidity has also taken over social time. And now our present itself becomes “liquid”, to put it like Zygmunt Bauman. Liquid, it means that our life often seems to slip through our fingers because the tool used does not give time to fix knowledge, experiences, therefore identities. In short, the GPS gives the way as much as it can unlearn the city; autocomplete gives the word as much as it can unlearn spelling.

So the price paid for efficiency becomes too great. And this liquidity of the present explodes the feeling of incomprehension in society. “What is the meaning of my work? “,” Why am I always invisible “. This is disorientation. The impression of living in an illegible, dysfunctional world because it is so functional. Clearly, we can no longer pretend that the algorithm that calculates – starting with your child's place in a university via Parcoursup – did not play a real role in this disorientation of the liquid present which makes it difficult to know who we East.

And that has consequences. At the same time as we are experiencing the acceleration, its reverse goes up: a request for benchmarks, returns, long time. The past century believed that the interdependence of economies guaranteed the end of nationalism. It was true, but the ball is unraveling. In twenty years, 30,000 km of borders have appeared. At the founding of the United Nations (UN), the states were forty-five, they are one hundred and ninety-eight today.


Despite the opening, it is splitting that seems to predominate. Immigration is everywhere a subject, Catalans are talking about them again, the Scots think they can join the European Union (EU) alone, etc. Doesn't the acceleration of economies and technologies also contain – contrary to what we thought – the politico-cultural fragmentation, with a powerful return of the question “who are we”?

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