Recherche, sciences, techniques - Société, modes de vie

Rebooting AI : Building Artificial Intelligence We Can Trust

Rebooting AI: Building Artificial Intelligence We Can Trust

Gary Marcus et Ernest Davis sont deux spécialistes de l’intelligence artificielle (IA) : le premier est professeur en psychologie et neuroscience, le second en sciences informatiques. Ce livre donne un éclairage sur la situation exacte de l’IA aujourd’hui : ce que fait, mais surtout ne fait pas cette technologie. Il permet d’avoir un regard critique sur le battage médiatique auquel on assiste à ce sujet, et de mieux comprendre comment remettre l’IA sur le bon chemin pour ...

(971 more words)


Institutions - Recherche, sciences, techniques - Société, modes de vie

The Chinese Social Credit System: How Beijing Evaluates, Rewards and Punishes its Population

In our increasingly connected and permanently interactive modern societies, the propensity to rate and evaluate everything is increasing. Whether to assess a phone call, rate a delivery service or medical appointment, or pass an opinion on a photograph or article etc., individuals/consumers/citizens are regularly called upon to express their opinions. But beyond these individual demands, which are controversial in themselves, we are also seeing institutional control systems developing, based on rating systems, like the one established in China in the late 1990s which has been markedly reinforced in the last ten years or so. Might Orwell’s ‘Big Brother’ have passed from fiction into reality, as many western commentators on the Chinese Social Credit System (SCS) fear?

Emmanuel Dubois de Prisque takes another look at the SCS here, showing how this system—inspired by Western practices for assessing the ability of economic actors to repay their borrowing—has wormed its way into the daily lives of Chinese citizens. He highlights the aims of the Chinese leaders in this connection (in particular, to promote virtuous human behaviour and trust), and the extent to which these are entirely consistent with China’s long cultural and political traditions. Emmanuel Dubois de Prisque stresses the dangers and drawbacks of the SCS where individual rights and freedoms are concerned, but he also shows the improvements it has brought about in China. Lastly, he ponders the possibility of such a system being exported to Western societies, though he does find this improbable at the moment, given the demands of those societies in terms of individual liberty.


Entreprises, travail - Ressources naturelles, énergie, environnement - Société, modes de vie

Towards a Collective Interest Capitalism: From Financial Performance to Collective Utility

The series on the role of companies in generating the common good, which began in autumn 2018 in Futuribles 426 and continued in issues 427, 429 and 431, resumes in this issue. As this article by Geneviève Ferone Creuzet and Virginie Seghers shows, the subject is nowhere near being exhausted and the process by which a collective interest capitalism will develop is only in its very earliest stages. Above and beyond corporate social responsibility, which has made room for a number of principles that can counterbalance short-termist or strictly financial logics, new forms of company are now developing, better defined and codified in legal terms, which aim to incorporate the mission and aim of contributing to the common good in their articles of association.

The authors of this article, who have participated actively in developing these new company structures in France, show how their specific articles of association have emerged and what they entail. Inspired, in particular, by developments in the USA over the last 10 years, ‘benefit corporations’ and ‘shareholder foundations’ are developing in France, together with other similar structures, enabling companies to reconcile aims of economic profitability with a concern for collective utility. The passing of the PACTE law (Plan of Action for the Growth and Transformation of Enterprises) in spring 2019 attests to the interest among political decision-makers in these changes of model: an encouraging sign, suggesting that the many challenges of this century may be confronted by all the stakeholders at their own particular level—public authorities, citizens and now economic actors of any size or scope.


Économie, emploi - Ressources naturelles, énergie, environnement - Société, modes de vie

Veganomics : vers une approche économique du véganisme

Veganomics : vers une approche économique du véganisme

Nicolas Treich, chercheur à la Toulouse School of Economics et à l’INRA (Institut national de la recherche agronomique), consacre un document de travail à l’analyse économique du « véganisme », ce terme désignant pour lui « tous les comportements visant à modifier (et pas seulement éliminer) l’utilisation ou la consommation d’animaux pour des raisons morales ». Ce sujet était jusqu’alors peu abordé par l’économie, discipline où « seul le bien-être des humains compte ». L’auteur aborde en premier lieu ...

(288 more words)

Note de veille

Ressources naturelles, énergie, environnement - Société, modes de vie

L’éco-anxiété, moteur d’action pour le climat ?

Lors du forum de Davos, le 25 janvier 2019, l’activiste écologiste Greta Thunberg déclare : « Je ne veux pas de votre espoir. Je veux que vous paniquiez [1]. » Son appel à l’engagement des étudiants pour défendre la planète a conduit à une mobilisation mondiale de jeunes, au nom de la lutte contre le réchauffement climatique. Dans un contexte où s’élèvent de toutes parts les menaces d’effondrement et les survivalistes qui s’y préparent [2], la peur peut-elle ...

(1098 more words)


Géopolitique - Société, modes de vie

La Guerre qui ne peut pas avoir lieu. Essai de métaphysique nucléaire

La Guerre qui ne peut pas avoir lieu. Essai de métaphysique nucléaire

Le risque du déclenchement d’une guerre nucléaire a été envisagé pendant la guerre froide et, plus récemment, à l’occasion des joutes verbales entre Donald Trump et le leader nord-coréen Kim Jong-un. Si, depuis août 1945, aucune arme atomique n’a été utilisée dans un conflit alors que plusieurs puissances ont construit un système complexe de dissuasion nucléaire, il est légitime de s’interroger sur les risques que celle-ci fait courir à la planète et c’est l’objectif ...

(1107 more words)


Économie, emploi - Ressources naturelles, énergie, environnement

Agir pour le climat. Entre éthique et profit

Agir pour le climat. Entre éthique et profit

Dans sa préface, Valérie Masson-Delmotte rappelle les origines et la geste du Groupe d’experts intergouvernemental sur l’évolution du climat (GIEC), dont elle est une responsable de haut niveau. Créé à la demande du G7, en 1988, sous la double tutelle de l’Organisation météorologique mondiale (OMM) et du Programme des Nations unies pour l’environnement (PNUE), il compte aujourd’hui 195 États membres. En 30 ans, le GIEC a rédigé cinq rapports périodiques, dont le premier a conduit ...

(1067 more words)

Note de veille

Recherche, sciences, techniques - Société, modes de vie

Une éthique européenne pour l’IA

Le 8 avril 2019, la Commission européenne a rendu publique la dernière version de ses directives éthiques pour une intelligence artificielle (IA) de confiance. Mise à jour suite aux 500 commentaires reçus durant une période de consultation achevée en janvier dernier, cette nouvelle proposition est le résultat du travail de 52 experts de tous domaines et de tous horizons [2]. Parmi eux, Cécile Wendling, à la tête de l’équipe prospective du groupe AXA, experte au sein du High Level ...

(1110 more words)

Futurs d'antan

Recherche, sciences, techniques - Société, modes de vie

Lewis Mumford, a Major Source for Thinking about the 21st Century

Even though we are never immune from unpredictable breaks in continuity, the trends at work today and over the last few decades hint at a world which bears the lasting mark of current technological developments (the continuing rise of ICT, AI etc.) and will have an increasingly urban population. In this context, and without making any assumptions about the real hold that technological progress will have on (enhanced?) human beings, nor the way urban societies will be organized in a world that is both hyper-connected and subject to increasing ecological pressures, this seems a suitable moment to re-visit the writings of Lewis Mumford.

Throughout his work, the American historian of science and cities Lewis Mumford (1895-1990) addressed themes that are still very topical in our societies: technics and civilization, the key role of cities in socio-political organization, the prospects opened up by the Man-machine relationship, the need for systemic thinking etc. In this ‘Future of Yesteryear’ article, Jean Haëntjens offers a very instructive re-reading, showing that even the most ‘technicistic’ of human societies still retain scope for agency.


Recherche, sciences, techniques - Santé

Repaired Body, Enhanced Body: Some Thoughts through the Prism of Plastic Surgery

We have on various occasions spoken in Futuribles of the putative transformation of the human in a ‘cyborg’ or transhumanist direction and of the various questions raised. This article by the surgeon Thérèse Awada enables us to put this prospect into perspective by showing how complex the human body is and how intervening surgically to repair and enhance it is no small matter.

By way of some historical reminders on the development of plastic surgery and some very concrete clarifications of the present state of the art, Thérèse Awada affords us a better grasp of the surgical actions deployed to repair, regenerate or ‘enhance’ the human body. She shows that these are often, as yet, only palliative solutions and far from being totally satisfactory for the patients who resort to them. Lastly, she raises a number of questions aimed at marking out the ethical issues surrounding the prospective introduction of technology into the body. This is a practitioner’s perspective which casts a different light on these sensitive questions…


Recherche, sciences, techniques - Société, modes de vie

Ad Vitam

Ad Vitam

Série française de Thomas Cailley (avec la collaboration de Manuel Schapira), avec notamment Yvan Attal et Garance Marillier. La chaîne Arte a diffusé cet automne une série française d’anticipation dont le nom — Ad Vitam — livre d’entrée au spectateur la problématique abordée au fil des six épisodes : que signifie la vie dans une société qui a repoussé sinon éradiqué les frontières de la mort ? Nous n’aborderons pas ici la qualité artistique de la série (au demeurant très bonne ...

(718 more words)

Note de veille

Santé - Société, modes de vie

Demain, tous “vegan” ?

Céline Laisney est directrice d’AlimAvenir, cabinet de veille et de prospective sur les comportements alimentaires et les innovations, et responsable du club Vigie Alimentation au sein de Futuribles International. Ce club réunit une trentaine de groupes de l’agroalimentaire et de la distribution, ainsi que d’autres organismes (centres de recherche, pôles de compétitivité, interprofessions, etc.) pour réfléchir collectivement à l’avenir du système alimentaire. Céline Laisney vient de publier l’Étude Vigie Alimentation 2018, qui est issue des ...

(1392 more words)


Entreprises, travail - Société, modes de vie

Enterprises and Constructing the Common Good

Despite the “social welfare services” developed by entrepreneurs as early as the 19th century and later criticized as “paternalistic”, the view in France for many years was that it was virtually the exclusive role of enterprises to make profits for the benefit of their shareholders and that everything relating to the collective interest was almost exclusively the business of the state. However, this division of roles is perhaps being undermined today by a multitude of factors. On the one hand, enterprises can no longer ignore the aspirations of their staff to work for meaningful ends, nor the ethical concerns of their clients, nor the fact that they themselves draw on shared (natural) resources and their activities may be destructive of an ecosystem whose fragility is becoming clearly visible… On the other hand, states, which have limited resources, cannot do everything and are perhaps not meant to shoulder the burden of embodying the common good all on their own. These considerations lead to our having launched, under the direction of Marthe de La Taille-Rivero, a series of articles published over several issues of Futuribles on “Enterprises and Constructing the Common Good”.

It falls, then, quite naturally to Marthe de La Taille-Rivero to introduce this series with a first article which shows how a certain concern for the common good took shape in France, mainly after the Second World War—a concern driven by some major employers and often influenced by the Anglo-Saxon countries and goes on to indicate the crucial additional impetus given to this movement from the 1980s onwards by Jacques Rigaud, the chair of Admical (Association for the Development of Industrial and Commercial Sponsorship).

She also highlights how business support that was originally targeted towards cultural activities has diversified appreciably to take in social matters and, subsequently, problems of the environment and sustainable development, as well as local development issues. Her article also stresses that companies’ modes of intervention have themselves changed a great deal over time, with the development of Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility (CSER) and sustainable development policies, alongside sponsorship of the arts and philanthropy. Is all this just part of corporate communications and image creation or does it represent a profound, enforced redistribution of roles, a hybridization of functions pregnant with a future that is quite unlike the past?


Recherche, sciences, techniques - Société, modes de vie

Petit Traité de cyberpsychologie

Petit Traité de cyberpsychologie

Les robots se multiplient et tout porte à croire que cette tendance va se poursuivre, bref nous entrons dans l’ère de la robotique quotidienne. Il en résultera de nombreux bouleversements, petits ou grands, qui tiendront à cette cohabitation annoncée avec les machines et aux interactions journalières que nous aurons demain avec les robots, comme aujourd’hui avec nos semblables. Pour penser cette nouvelle ère, il nous faut d’abord lever les ambiguïtés qui nous font prêter facilement aux robots ...

(725 more words)


Recherche, sciences, techniques - Société, modes de vie

The Ideological Impulses Driving Transhumanism: On Gilbert Hottois’s book “Philosophie et idéologies trans/posthumanistes”

Transhumanism, first popularized in North America in the 1960s (by Ray Kurzweil) and more particularly from the 1980s onwards (when a significantly large movement formed around these ideas), advocates the use of science and technology to improve the physical and mental characteristics of human beings, and hence to impel humanity beyond the human condition in the strict sense of the term. Drawing on the convergence of technologies (IT, nano- and bio-technologies and the cognitive sciences), that movement has been boosted by the advances we have seen in recent years, particularly in the area of artificial intelligence. But what is transhumanism? What are its philosophical and ideological underpinnings? And what is its proponents’ ultimate goal? Might it lead to a posthumanism, relegating the human to the status of historical relic?

In a recent work, Gilbert Hottois set about unpicking the ideological impulses behind transhumanism and its extreme version, posthumanism. Pierre Papon presents us with the broad outlines of that study here, while also stressing the limitations of this ideology when it comes to the medium/long-term challenges facing humanity. If it is essential not to lower our guard at the ethical level, we should probably also engage in a little demystification: techno-scientific progress is still moving too slowly for the plans of the transhumanists actually to be implemented. We can only hope that this continues to be the case…


Recherche, sciences, techniques - Société, modes de vie

Trois utopies contemporaines

Trois utopies contemporaines

Francis Wolff est philosophe, professeur émérite au département de philosophie de l’ENS (École normale supérieure). Il propose dans cet ouvrage une analyse critique de ce qu’il identifie comme les trois utopies dominantes des sociétés occidentales : le posthumanisme, l’animalisme et le cosmopolitisme. Ces trois courants ont pour point commun, explique-t-il, de chercher à surmonter le paradoxe des sociétés contemporaines. En effet, d’un côté, les individus ont tiré les leçons de l’Histoire et se montrent plus méfiants ...

(924 more words)


Ressources naturelles, énergie, environnement - Société, modes de vie

Zoopolis. Une théorie politique des droits des animaux

Zoopolis. Une théorie politique des droits des animaux

Depuis environ un an, la question de la condition animale occupe la scène politique et médiatique. Alors que les colloques se succèdent autour du statut juridique des animaux, le parti animaliste, créé en 2016, dont l’objectif est de relayer les diverses revendications liées à la défense des animaux afin de faire passer leur protection dans la loi, a recueilli, à la surprise générale, plus de 63 000 voix sur 142 circonscriptions en France, lors des élections législatives de 2017 ...

(1030 more words)


Recherche, sciences, techniques

Rêveries d’un chercheur solidaire

Rêveries d’un chercheur solidaire

Paraphrasant Jean-Jacques Rousseau et ses Rêveries d’un promeneur solitaire, Jacques Testart, le biologiste qui est le « père scientifique » du premier bébé-éprouvette né en France, livre ses réflexions de chercheur sur l’évolution de la science contemporaine, ses succès et ses risques. Elles sont inspirées par les réalités de la vie dans des laboratoires au cours d’une longue carrière, 42 ans de « paillasse », qui l’ont conduit à travailler à la campagne pour l’INRA (Institut national de la ...

(798 more words)


Recherche, sciences, techniques - Territoires, réseaux

Data Ethics : The New Competitive Advantage

Data Ethics: The New Competitive Advantage

We live in a world of data: culture, politics, banks, insurance, all of these sectors are dealing with a lot of digital footprints and information, some of them very personal and sensitive. Companies today need to have a data strategy but also a data ethics. They need to know what type of data they are processing, for what purpose, with what types of limits because data is not only an asset, it is also a risk (hacking, data breach, reputation ...

(676 more words)


Géopolitique - Recherche, sciences, techniques

Future War

Future War

Dans Future War, Christopher Coker, philosophe anglais de la London School of Economics explique qu’il est très important de se préoccuper de l’avenir de la guerre, car cette question ne concerne pas uniquement les États et les citoyens, mais touche aussi les grandes entreprises qui sont de plus en plus impliquées dans des guerres économiques très stratégiques. À cela s’ajoute le fait que les nouveaux moyens technologiques (intelligence artificielle, drones, virus informatiques, biologie de synthèse) réinterrogent les ...

(697 more words)

Futurs d'antan

Recherche, sciences, techniques - Société, modes de vie

The Origins of the Word “Transhumanism”

An increasing number of books and articles have appeared in recent years on the theme of transhumanism, prompted by the extremely rapid scientific and technical progress that seems to bode well for proponents of this school of thought. Transhumanism, which was popularized in North America in the 1960s (by, among others, Ray Kurzweil) and particularly in the 1980s (when a movement of significant scale formed around these ideas), advocates the use of science and technology to improve the physical and mental characteristics of human beings and hence push humanity beyond the human condition in the narrow sense. The term “transhumanism” is not, however, a recent one, as Olivier Dard and Alexandre Moatti show in this ‘Futures of Yesteryear’ feature: it goes back, at least, to the 1930s and might even predate the 20th century. This article looks at the semantic origins of the term and the authors who presided over its emergence, enabling us to put a fashionable concept back into context.

Note de veille

Entreprises, travail - Société, modes de vie

Ashley Madison : un tournant de la cybersécurité ?

L’affaire Ashley Madison concernant le vol puis la révélation auprès du grand public, en août 2015, des informations personnelles des utilisateurs de ce site canadien de rencontres extraconjugales a créé un important buzz dans les médias. Au-delà des questions relatives à la moralité d’un tel site, les principaux commentaires concernaient le ratio femmes/hommes réel des inscrits, bien loin des annonces des propriétaires du site [1]. Les motivations avancées par le groupe de hackers The Impact Team à ...

(690 more words)


Recherche, sciences, techniques - Société, modes de vie

The New Eugenics Is in Gestation

With talk of transhumanism and the enhancement of human capacities, ours is an age which seems increasingly to countenance the surpassing or even the total overriding of the limits of the human species, for better or for worse. In a closely related spirit, Jacques Testart tells us, eugenic tendencies are back, though not in this case as a consequence of authoritarian acts or policies but as a result of the headway made by the idea that we could, thanks to medical advance, eventually eliminate all risk of pathology or “abnormality” in new-born children. It is this surreptitious slide towards a new eugenics, which he describes as “soft, consensual and democratic”, that Jacques Testart describes in this article. He shows how, thanks to the advances made in pre-implantation diagnosis, combined with progress in the fields of cell biology and computing, ways are being developed to sort and select embryos which are the most perfect possible by currently prevailing social standards.

However as Testart, himself a pioneer in medically assisted procreation (he enabled the birth of the first “test tube baby” to occur in France in 1982), these substantial advances, which he describes in the course of his article, are not sufficient to guarantee the birth of perfect individuals and remain fallible. Moreover, they raise serious ethical questions about the delineation of what is considered “normal”, particularly in a society that tends towards cut-throat competition, and about the form of social organization to which the practice of a new eugenics of this kind might lead.


Recherche, sciences, techniques - Ressources naturelles, énergie, environnement - Société, modes de vie

GMOs: Definitions, Promises and Disillusionments

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which are a source of great distrust so far as French citizens are concerned, are also at the heart of important controversies in the scientific world. This special issue which Futuribles is devoting to the GM question attests to this, through articles that are at times highly positive and favourable to the development of GMOs. These are counterbalanced here by Jacques Testart and Frédéric Prat calling for greater caution in the manipulation of living material.

Reminding us what GMOs are, and of the scientific hopes that many have vested in them, Testart and Prat show how the scientific controversies are far from being settled and how slow the promises of the GMO advocates have been in coming to fruition. They criticize the tendency to regard the genome as a Meccano set that can be manipulated without any impact on plant and animal life. In their view, matters are quite different. By manipulating genes, by promoting genetic mutations without controlling the risks of their spreading to other plants or even jumping barriers between (plant and animal) species, some scientists are playing “sorcerer’s apprentice” and hiding behind (pseudo-)scientific arguments that may well, in the longer term, not be at all progressive. It is essential, argue Testart and Prat, to show caution in this area – particularly as alternatives exist to take agricultural research forward – and to fall in with a democratic approach based on giving the public complete and transparent information.

Note de veille

Institutions - Santé

La réanimation néonatale : quelles conséquences et quelles limites ?

La médecine néonatale a fait des progrès considérables dans la prise en charge des prématurés, permettant de reculer toujours plus le seuil du terme de la prise en charge. Ainsi dans les années 1970, un prématuré pesant entre 500 et 750 grammes à la naissance n’avait aucune chance de survie, alors qu’il en avait 27 % à 63 % en 1995 . Cependant, cette possibilité accrue de survie s’accompagne bien souvent de conséquences lourdes pour l’enfant, ce qui soulève ...

(5 more words)