Manifesto for a political debate on digital technology and ecology

Today, most of our fellow citizens consider that the next generations will live less well than the previous ones. This collective pessimism is fueled by social media, information obesity, “fake news” and hate speech. Don’t Look Up, the Netflix film, conveys caricatural ideas on the problems linked to global warming, but it is undoubtedly useful to caricature our societies to make people aware that technological solutions are not enough to deal with ecological problems.

→ CRITICAL. “Don’t Look Up”, an apocalyptic farce

AI (machine learning) will search through billions of digital data (Big Data) for clues, weak signals that a human cannot see. Masses of digitized information are thus processed at inhuman speeds and magnitudes to decide for us.

They can be used for remarkable progress: detecting the first signs of cancer in X-rays, better managing rare diseases, finding a vaccine, etc. It could also help to better manage planetary resources.

Digital and AI are beginning to be used to monitor environmental risks through the analysis of images recorded by cameras or satellites. It is for example possible to make profitable agriculture without pesticides by combining agronomic science, digital technologies and AI, allowing responsible and optimal management of sowing and harvesting, soil verification, disease monitoring and type optimization. of planting. This holistic vision and the pooling of observation data can provide many solutions for developing responsible agriculture.

Digital and AI are changing everyday life and promising miracles for the future. But the subject is very complex, digital technology has significant human, societal and environmental consequences that we must worry about. Digital is an extraction technology whose real cost is unknown, to build computers and telephones, for example rare metals are extracted from the earth; to make AI, low-wage labor annotates data collected everywhere and, for some, extracted from our actions on the Internet and social networks. Four billion people are connected to the Internet and social networks, the energy expenditure is enormous and should increase.

→ MAINTENANCE. Éric Salobir: “Technologies can make us more human”

The driving force behind the deployment of these systems should not be solely an economic lever without being interested in people, nor a lever to manage the planet’s problems by ignoring the energy expenditure generated by digital technology. What society do we want to build? A society moving towards augmented humans like in the United States where the transhumanist wave is rising, a surveillance society like in China? What is France’s vision in this concert of nations, particularly on the dazzling acceleration of digital applications that are increasingly helping us in our daily lives? These subjects deserve a political debate during the presidential campaign.


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