Recherche, sciences, techniques
Cette page regroupe l'ensemble des publications de Futuribles sur cette thématique (Vigie, revue, bibliographie, études, etc.)
John Brockman a demandé à 25 scientifiques d'imaginer les avancées et découvertes susceptibles de se produire dans leurs champs de recherche les 50 prochaines années. Robert Sapolsky se demande ainsi si nous serons encore triste en 2050, et se montre assez pessimiste sur la possibilité d'éradiquer la dépression, véritable épidémie de notre époque. Pourtant, selon le neurologue Joseph LeDoux, le fonctionnement du cerveau devrait être beaucoup mieux compris et de nouveaux médicaments pour éliminer les mauvais souvenirs ou ...
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L'industrie du logiciel occupe une place centrale dans l'infrastructure technologique de nos sociétés et dans le fonctionnement des entreprises et des organisations. Le groupe de travail présidé par Hugues Rougier, associant experts du secteur privé et du secteur public, a examiné quelle était la situation actuelle du logiciel en France et comment les pouvoirs publics pouvaient renforcer sa dynamique de développement. Ses recommandations s'orientent dans deux directions. Tout d'abord, aider les acteurs à innover et à ...
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Avant d'entrer dans le vif du sujet, Jean-Claude Guillebaud, venu présenter les leçons principales due son dernier essai, Le Principe d'humanité, a voulu écarter dès l'abord deux malentendus persistants qui risquent de polluer la compréhension de son propos.
Following the terrorist attacks against the United States on 11 September 2001, Pierre Bonnaure reflects on "the surprising failure of the American secret services, which some say were caught totally unawares".
First he comments that the situation is not that simple and that many problems arise between anticipation and action, in particular knowing whether to take a warning seriously and what decision to take about timely action when considerable uncertainty and enormous risks are involved.
He nevertheless stresses that the secret services seem to have been unprepared for an attack that did not fit current expectations, terrorist attacks on several targets rather than an act of aggression by a "rogue state". He criticizes the shortsightedness of the intelligence authorities, emphasizing that this is not the first instance, and tries to understand the reasons for this failure.
In a few lines he reminds us of a series of problems facing what is now called strategic intelligence as well as those inherent in the interaction between thinking and action.
Intangibles, starting with technological R&D, are playing an increasingly decisive role in the competitive position of countries, firms and also regions. Consequently it is important to try to measure the scientific and technological performance of regions, even if the indicators used are not wholly reliable. This is the task that the 'Institut d'aménagement et d'urbanisme de la région Île-de-France' (IAURIF) has set itself with regard to the main regions of the 'big three' (European Union, United States of America, Japan), using three key indicators: domestic R&D expenditures, quantity of scientific publications and of patents registered; to these are added an 'index of specialization'..
Vincent Gollain discusses the main conclusions of this study, which reveals that there is considerable variation in the scientific and technological potential of regions within each of the countries concerned, as well as among countries. He draws up a league table of the 24 leading regions of Europe, and stresses the dominant position, whatever the subject, of the regions around Paris, London and Tokyo. Similarly, in the countries with a federal system, certain regions stand well above the rest: California and Michigan in the United States, Baden-Wurttemberg and Bavaria in Germany.
In this way, Gollain seeks to highlight the performance and the degree of specialization of the top regions, and also the differing roles played in them by firms and public authorities.
Although he acknowledges the growing international importance of some new regions (e.g. Sophia Antipolis in southern France, Hsinchu, Montreal), he argues that the strength of regions is quite stable, and is highly dependent on long-term political aims, the synergy that may be built up between research institutions and social and cultural factors. From a comparison of the performance of the 24 leading regions in Europe with those of the top 12 in the United States and the most advanced regions of Japan, Gollain demonstrates the overwhelming role of a handful of regions and of a few cities of international importance: Paris, London, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo.
La théorie des jeux : nouveau paradigme et nouvelle méthode de pensée particulièremement heuristique, voici la vision que Christian Schmidt s'est attaché à nous faire partager à l'occasion de cette table ronde.
Jean-Jacques Salomon begins here by stating that the sequencing of the human genome, far from being an endeavour for human welfare, is the subject of a bitter competition, in particular, between public and private sector interests, and that its mapping reflects the geography of power...
Thus, the primary question according to him is whether the human genome is part of the common legacy of humanity (and constitutes a public good) or whether it can be, as is already the case today, privately appropriated and therefore sooner or later, become tradable.
The author subsequently stresses that the human genome cannot be understood as being identical and common to all humans, i.e. the genome of universal man, the average genome. On the contrary, quoting Richard Horton, he shows that the "practical interest of the human genome lies not so much in its actual sequence itself as in the genetic variations between individuals".
Finally, opposing all forms of genetic determinism, Jean-Jacques Salomon reminds us that human beings are not made up of genes that totally predetermine them, but that they also are the product of a social and cultural environment and that any theory explaining human behaviour through strictly physical and chemical factors is an aberration.
Never, it seems, has the progress of science and technique been so ambivalent, giving rise (in particular in the realm of life sciences) to such fears and such hopes.
Discussing here the progress in genetics, Jacques Testart shows first the role played by myths and reality in the progress achieved so far, underlining in particular how the progress in knowledge reveals the depth of our ignorance, or rather, the uncertainty that surrounds many questions. "The attitude of scientific and political authorities reveals a concern to believe and make believe in the control of genetics, a concern which tends towards falsification and irresponsibility" he writes, in order to expose human vanity and the tendency to boast about a knowledge that one does not really have.
Despite that remaining doubt, the author in a second part shows "how we can use genetics". He stresses what advances can be expected, especially in so called predictive medicine, but simultaneously warns about the inherent dangers to genetic selection, the competition towards "molecular enhancement" or worse even, towards "genetic purification" and dangerous "molecular tagging".
It is high time says the author, to "demystify the fabulous promises of genetics and to democratise the field of techno-science". Here lies, no doubt, the greatest challenge for the years to come, in which all of us have a stake and which we can't leave to the secret deliberations of the few genetic initiates alone.
The European Commission publishes an annual report on distance working in Europe. Anne de Beer, on the basis the 2000 Edition, observes that distance working is on the increase in Europe, in spite of the different forms it adopts and the significant differences in its popularity from one country to another.
For instance, this report reveals that although the number of distance workers in Europe rose above 10 million last year, this form of work is much more frequent in Scandinavian countries than in the Mediterranean, with France at the bottom of the list... except in terms of creating obstacles to its development.
Increasingly, businesses appear to be obliged to meet the demands of sustainable development (if only in response to the growing pressure from their shareholders, consumers or employees). But there is another factor that seems now to play a key role in determining the "sustainability" or even the viability of firms: their ability to taken on board the lessons of the revolution in information and communication technologies (ICTs).
In this article, Xavier Dalloz and André-Yves Portnoff attempt to describe the new paradigm of management generated by the Internet, which they argue that all firms must adopt in order to avoid going into decline. The authors support their arguments by citing specific cases that illustrate the need (in both negative and positive ways) for a radical "e-novation".
In their view, one would have to be exceptionally shortsighted not to see that "the phenomena we have been witnessing over the last decade are important and in general their strength is likely to grow exponentially in future". It would then be fatal to dismiss the ICTs as merely an ornamental supplement to the real business of production or marketing. The authors are adamant: without succumbing to a blind fascination for all things high-tech, it is essential for firms to understand that networks and the shift towards the intangible are making certain styles of management and business organization increasingly appropriate and indispensable; firms must undergo major restructuring if they are to integrate these changes. The key words here are: involvement, flows, partnership and interdependence.
L'ampleur des liens entre la santé (au-delà des soins) et les territoires, incite à une réflexion sur l'aménagement sanitaire du territoire. Elle se fonde sur des méthodes prospectives afin de dresser l'inventaire des idées reçues, de déterminer les tendances et de définir les enjeux qui domineront l'action à venir. Cette grille d'analyse fournit un cadre d'action à l'établissement de scénarios d'évolution et de propositions d'action publique.
"In barely three decades we have learned how to isolate, modify and patent genes, to break through the boundaries separating species and kingdoms that had been fixed for millions of years, to turn living organisms into merchandise, industrial seedbeds and production lines of genetically modified or even cloned products."
Scientific advances are occurring at this swift pace, constantly driven forward by demand, and perhaps soon they will make it possible to abolish the human race altogether or to produce better human beings. "Why not take advantage of this? What's the problem?"
The problem derives first from the development of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the vegetable, then the animal and human kingdoms, encouraged by scientific progress and market forces, without either mastery of or control over the undesirable consequences that may result.
Louise Vandelac focuses first on GMOs in order to show how staggeringly fast the spread of GM crops has been and what the causes for concern are. Then, switching from one species to another, she shows how the efforts to deal with infertility by developing in vitro fertilization brought us rapidly to being able to manipulate the genome of embryos so that they could be assessed, sorted and their faults corrected...
The author thus emphasizes how we are moving by leaps and bounds towards making living things completely artificially, how carelessly we are entering into a phase of biological production methods, of "gentle, incipient, individualistic and consumer-oriented" eugenics, a period marked by incredible combinations: body and soul, gametes and embryos, muddling species, human beings and things...
"How come we give certain people today such extraordinary powers?", demands Louise Vandelac. She then goes on to argue that it is both paradoxal and suicidal to allow science to have such a strong hold over matters of individual and collective identity. We should not stand idly by, but rather "insist on having the chance to think together about the origins, scope and complexity of this commercial, death-dealing and eugenic approach to living things. Science must be made part of the democratic process."
This review by Laurence Alfonsi of Paul Verhoeven's film The Hollow Man -first shown in France in autumn 2000- rounds off the various reflections generated by Louise Vandelac, Bill Joy and Martin Hutchinson in the course of this issue of Futuribles with regard to the risks for human beings of using science "without conscience".
Whereas in Europe, several countries (including France) regard human cloning as a violation of a basic taboo, and therefore ponder, hesitate and consult with their ethics committees, the Americans have forged ahead without worrying unduly. Clearly, attitudes to innovation are quite different in the Old and New Worlds. Since the "last frontier" was reached and the whole continent occupied from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the United States has always treated technological innovation as a new frontier, and science itself has become, as in the title of the report that Roosevelt commissioned from his scientific adviser, Vannevar Bush, "the endless frontier". It is therefore not surprising that the commercialization of cloning should already be a topic for economic analysis in the United States.
One might assume that two articles put out by the deeply serious United Press International, under the by-line of its equally serious economics editor, were written tongue in cheek. Nevertheless, even if they belong in Brave New World, they highlight the hopes raised by the economics of eugenics.
Of the three possibilities discussed -human cloning, manipulating embryos in order to perfect or get rid of certain characteristics, and producing human beings by entirely artificial means- none can be ruled out as feasible within the next five to ten years, but the markets linked to each of these differs enormously in terms of likely yields and productivity. The cost of human cloning is doubtless prohibitive, even though Martin Hutchinson says one should not underestimate the power of human vanity as a marketing factor. On the other hand, manipulating human embryos in order to detect and avoid certain hereditary diseases, or to enhance the intelligence, sporting abilities or physical beauty of a future child opens up a much larger market, with many economic spin-offs. In the 16th century, indulgences sold by the Church enabled people to buy a soul and salvation. The business of genetic engineering will enable people to buy a body with the attributes and the fantasies of perfection, perpetual good health or immortality: isn't the clone-boom the real New Economy?
Fort anciennes sont les questions posées par le progrès de la science et des techniques qui faisaient déjà dire à Rabelais que " science sans conscience n'est que ruine de l'âme ". Questions qui, depuis des siècles, ont hanté nombre de philosophes s'inquiétant de la puissance toujours plus grande dont nous disposons sans que notre sagesse augmente en proportion. Sans, a fortiori, que les scientifiques eux-mêmes, hormis quelques rares exceptions, tout occupés à produire de nouvelles connaissances et techniques ...
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Anne de Beer and Gérard Blanc comment here on a recent study by the BIPE on the impact of the information and communications technologies (ICTs) on growth, productivity and employment.
We know that over two decades the investments in ICTs seem not to have had a major impact on productivity and employment -hence Solow's famous paradox: "computers are everywhere except in the statistics". Perhaps, suggest the authors, this is because the introduction of these technologies required a considerable effort of organizational and sociocultural adaptation and innovation which occurred slowly.
According to the BIPE, however, the impact of the ICTs appears to have been clearly positive, first in the United States since the mid 1990s, slightly later in France. Not only did these technologies constitute an extremely dynamic sector but, in addition, they encouraged the whole range of economic activities and therefore had a major multiplier effect on growth, productivity and employment.
Basing its study on the structure of the French economy in 1998, the BIPE attempted to estimate the multiplier effect that the ICTs might have on the French economy between now and 2003. This article briefly reviews these simulations, which are quite promising.
With the Internet and the spread of the information and communication technologies (ITCs), one noticed the emergence (especially in the United States of America) of the concept of a "Net-economy", as well as the one, broader, of a "new economy". Their advocates argue that we would have entered a new era, characterized by a technological and economic paradigm that would be totally different from the former.
Frédéric Teulon first indicates what this concept of a "new economy" means, and explains how the idea could emerge that the growth of the ITCs -as well as those of the rail in the XIXth century and of the electricity and the car in the XXth - can signify a new era. The author wonders how it could denote that we would be now at the beginning of a new upswing in the Kondratieff cycle. In this regard, he points out the effective improvements accomplished, despite the delay justifying Solow's paradox -computers can be seen everywhere except in the productivity rate- and due to the deep restructuring of the American productive system.
But, even if technological innovation is patent and if information now represents the main factor of wealth, it does not necessarily mean that the past economic rules are outdated. Frédéric Teulon, through various examples, demonstrates that on the contrary these remain really relevant: the ITCs do not imply the end of the big firm, of the market economy (vs. economy of the free), of integration, of the risk of inflation...
It is important not to be deluded by the takeoff of the Nasdaq -Nasdaq which has lost half its value since March 2000... Many start-ups will be bankrupt... All this is normal: the "new economy" functions in the same way as the old; if technical improvement permitted growth, the fact remains that the problematic of development is much more complex than what is explained by those who want to present a univocal answer. Economic, fiscal and monetary policies, for instance, remain as far important.
Face aux nombreux bouleversements technologiques qui ont marqué ces dernières années, il paraît très difficile de déterminer dès à présent celles des technologies en cours de développement, dans le domaine des télécommunications et des technologies de réseaux, qui survivront dans les années à venir. Cet ouvrage a pour ambition de faciliter la compréhension des progrès technologiques en cours, ainsi que des questions et défis de ce début de siècle en matière de technologies de la communication. « Les progrès dans les ...
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On a certainement plus parlé dans les livres d'histoire et de politique de Napoléon que de James Watt. Il n'est pas sûr que ce choix ait permis à bien des générations de comprendre la société dans laquelle elles évoluaient. Désormais, ne serait-ce qu'en raison des défis de l'environnement, on s'intéresse enfin à la société technicienne, à ses origines, à ses caractéristiques. L'ouvrage de Jean Parent et Sabine Sépari a deux mérites. Il est clair ...
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L'édition 2001 du Rapport mondial sur le développement humain nous rappelle qu'en matière de nouvelles technologies (technologies de l'information et de la communication et biotechnologies), les inégalités à l'échelle planétaire sont aujourd'hui très impressionnantes, et compromettent sérieusement, pour l'heure, nombre de retombées positives à moyen terme - ne fût-ce que parce que le tiers de la population mondiale ne dispose pas de l'électricité, et qu'au problème de l'innovation et de l'accès ...
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Ce chapitre est extrait du Rapport Vigie 2016 de Futuribles International, qui propose un panorama structuré des connaissances et des incertitudes des experts que l'association a mobilisés pour explorer les évolutions des 15 à 35 prochaines années sur 11 thématiques.