Forecasting AI blog




> was at the AI Forum and tells you about his evening was at the AI Forum and tells you about his evening

By G. H.


March 9, 2018





Studio 104 of the well-stocked Maison de la radio, Artificial Intelligence attracted a crowd for the AI Forum organized by France Inter and Libération on January 24th. Articulated around three axes (the AI in our societies, our lives and our minds), this AI Forum will not revolutionize neither the way of perceiving Artificial Intelligence, nor the way of practicing it. Present for the occasion, told you more and tells you what it has learned.

The place is mythical, the auditorium, or at least the recently renovated Studio 104 of the Maison de la radio, is ready to welcome the crowd. In front of the doors, an already long tail. The hostesses are ready to draw their clocks (with or without AI) to bring in the spectators. In just a few minutes, the first level of Studio 104 is already crowded. So much so that some even find themselves standing, on the stairs or installed as they can in a nook and cranny of the large room. Guests and speakers do not have this problem, like Yann LeCun, the AI guru, who can disembark a few seconds before the beginning of the exchanges to settle down in his chair reserved for the front row.

Artificial Intelligence has been packed to capacity at the Maison de la Radio, and this is already the first good news that have wished to raise. AI gathers! Whether they are curious, sceptical or simply in the field, all these people are eager to know what it is going to be, and so are we. This AI Forum, organized jointly by France Inter and Libération (which completes the offer with a special edition of Voyage au coeur de l' Intelligence Artificielle), is ready to start with the first theme of the evening: The AI in our societies.

A "Made in France" AI Forum

The speakers who arrive on the stage of the Maison de la Radio in front of a student audience are generally of high quality. Above all, the Commission looks forward to hearing from Cédric Villani, a mathematician and LRM deputy appointed by the government to carry out a mission on Artificial Intelligence, and Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, president of the CNIL - National Commission on Information Technology and Liberties. Perhaps a little less so Pascal Demurger, general manager of the Maif group, who seems to be there to promote his company and underline the ethics she has shown in Artificial Intelligence...

Unfortunately, this assistance will not get its money's worth. After a few good words, the speech is relatively classical and politically correct. The neophytes will certainly have enjoyed discovering this discipline. For the experts, the entry into the field is very wise, far from a discipline whose rise in power can be felt on a daily basis. There is even a certain spirit that can be described as "made in France". Talking about it over and over again, theorizing - a tricolour specialty - when Anglo-Saxons are more in practice.

The question of jobs destruction

France thinks a lot and responds by ethics and philosophy to those who try to assimilate Artificial Intelligence to a dehumanization of society. These are certainly her strengths, and they would be wrong to deprive themselves of them. In an interview she gave us on December 5th, , researcher in AI at the CNRS, did not say anything else:"We know how to initiate things in France. On the other hand, government and industry need to boost energy. If we don't give the means, at least give us energy to build and study! We have always been strong on standards and norms. It should not be said that ethics is an obstacle to the emancipation of Artificial Intelligence." The question of job destruction with the use of Artificial Intelligence is also raised, but here again it is a point of analysis or foresight. No bias, France is still in arbitration and reflection. And why not, by the way?

Data protection is also an important part of the theme "AI in our societies". There, Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, president of the CNIL, assures that the authority she directs is watching over the grain. La Cnil, she assures, is in phase with her time and already ready to work, with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) which will extend to the European level, in a world in which Big Data will undoubtedly take on yet another dimension. This was the most interesting aspect of the AI component in our societies. To learn that the GRDP would not only concern the large European groups but also, for example, the GAFAMs as soon as they operate on the old continent. To discover this, we had to rely on the relevance and the question of a spectator, obviously more interested in the theme than the speakers or the Forum facilitators themselves.

For those who have not abandoned their post along the way to, for example, take a snack in a bar at the Maison de la Radio almost as mythical as Studio 104, the second installment of AI Forum AI in our lives begins immediately afterwards. Julie Gaillot, CSA institute, Michel Lutz, Total group, David Giblas, for Malakoff Médéric, and Jean-Gabriel Ganascia, CNRS, take their seats in the chairs to finally announce us what we already knew: the French have already heard of Artificial Intelligence and this one is already very present in our lives! On a more serious note, however, an interesting figure came out of the survey conducted by the CSA for the occasion: only 46% of respondents wanted to go further in the field of Artificial Intelligence. In other words, a majority would ultimately want to leave the research on hold at this stage of the situation for fear that their future will be clouded. Even more surprisingly, it is finally the youngest ones, those from the millenarian generation and whom one might think to be the most curious, who would like to see the research stop. The reasons seem to be rather logical: a precarious future, fear of living less well than one's parents and fear of not finding work.

Already present in our lives, it is a fact (whether for example through bots or search engines, as Jean-Gabriel Ganascia pointed out), so the AI still shares the population. By ignorance of the subject? By ethical or philosophical choices? Undoubtedly a little bit of both because 43% of the French have a fear that robots will take precedence over humans in the years to come, confirms the CSA institute. The AI in our lives is therefore already very present and frightens us more than we could ever imagine, even though 54% of those surveyed feel that they know the subject well.

Scary the AI? It is finally the last topic addressed by Yann LeCun and Enki Bilal, draughtsman and scriptwriter, invited to exchange on stage for the theme of AI in our heads. Again, nothing revolutionary except perhaps the reassuring words of the head of Facebook's AI research lab on a total AI, capable of understanding the world and emotions as a human brain. According to him, the research would still be far from being able to produce such Artificial Intelligence, or even that it could attack human beings such as HAL 9000 or terminators. Three hours later, we finally came out of such a debate reassured with an obvious conclusion in our pocket: talking about AI is still the best way to better understand its contours and tame our fears.