Bring down the GAFA! –

by bold-lichterman

Nothing new under the sun

Three thousand years before our era, sedentarization, the development of urban centers and the intensity of exchanges pushed the Mesopotamians to invent the first signs of writing and the first algorithms (addition and multiplication) to inventory and classify the world. Today the generalized connection of the planet pushes us to create artificial and automated intelligences to control our environment. Nothing new under the sun ! The digital revolution and that of writing respond to the same need to control the increasing complexity of economic and social transactions. It is a new stage in the storage and processing of knowledge that our society is violently encountering. A revolution in symbolic coding which makes it possible to analyze and exploit all the data stored in universal digital memory. A staggering development potential of our cultural wealth and our cognitive power, a new age of intelligence and knowledge, but which at the same time plunges us into completely unknown territories. “We are amazed by Google, but we are actually in prehistory […] I believe that we are really at the very beginning of this revolution: it is as if we had tried to guess the consequences of printing at the beginning of the 16th century, ”says Pierre Levy.

Counter-powers that don’t do their job

A revolution / repetition which, like the previous ones, overtakes social organizations and sweeps away all known landmarks (cf. printing, the French Revolution). A period of latency which produces “an interruption, a suspension of everything that seemed to flow naturally (…) and which affects (beyond technological disruption) the life of the mind, art, science, philosophy, politics, law, says Bernard Stiegler. A device which means that nothing is permanent and that society is disintegrated. ” So far so good ! We are in a known chaotic process, which we have always come out of through the ages stronger, smarter. But the situation is complicated when the founding principle of progress runs out of fuel; when the checks and balances don’t do their job. In this case, Europe, which by standing idly by in the face of the digital revolution, has left a handful of (resolutely visionary) organizations to redesign the world economy in a logic of privatization and for their sole benefit; invent in secret laboratories (on European territory) and with almost unlimited resources the future engine of global economic growth: artificial intelligence. A historically unprecedented situation which calls into question what makes civilization (the collective) and which carried by a logic of excessive monetization leaves France and Europe without a voice.

The need for mediation and collective action

With Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk understood the dangers of this privatization of intelligence: “It is difficult to predict when a human level AI can be achieved, but when it will be the case it will be important to have a cutting-edge research institution which will make it a priority to benefit everyone and not to its own interests. “There is a race between the growing power of technology and the common sense with which to manage it,” explains Max Tegmark, president of FLI (Future of Life Institute). Until then all investments have been aimed at making systems smarter, this is the first time that there has been an investment in the other aspect (common sense). “An approach initiated in January to divert research from the” dark side “of artificial intelligence and which already has considerable resources – a billion dollars (909 million euros) have already been placed on the table by Elon Musk. A need to pool our wealth which will be boosted by the Peer to Peer economy, better known by the denominational of blockchain or block chain and which will revolutionize all types of transactions and open the door to new relationships in eliminating intermediaries. The digital revolution has only just begun and the closed and privatized models offered by the GAFA will not be able to respond to the need for mediation and positive collective actions essential to the construction of a civilization (as we know it). No actor, whatever his financial strength, can inventory the world for his own benefit. More and more voices are being heard and a new puzzle is being put in place to move on to “after GAFA”, a new digital stage in which Europe has its place.

A royal road for Europe

After letting the big digital leaders exploit one of the most promising European fields, research in artificial intelligence (Google DeepMind in London, Facebook AI in Paris, Google Research in Zurich); after letting Google and its soft power make France a laboratory to feed the “black box” of its algorithms, as Dominique Nora explains in “Google in France or the true power of digital Leviathan”, will we leave a new times Americans like Elon Musk or the FLI respond to Singularity University and transhumanists and take control of this “common sense” revolution? There is no fatality. Europe has the cultural and scientific legitimacy to open this third way and regain its independence. Get out of the pincers in which we are locked, the fantasy of going backwards which stirs up the worst reflexes and the headlong rush of a humanity of algorithms carried by Silicon Valley. Europe must make itself heard, defend its historical values, develop its “common sense” of responsibilities, open up new perspectives and new areas of experimentation by reappropriating digital technology. Collectively transform the deluge of data and invent a new democratic and thoughtful era. An independence which will not be satisfied with adjustments (as we are currently doing) but will require radicalism in our commitments. Change everything (yes, everything) so that nothing changes.

Bring out new players

Locked in their technological “neutrality”, a linear culture focused on engineers and centralized technical solutions, French players do not have the culture, the training or the imagination to initiate this revolution and change the course of history. . In the continuous flow of information, innovations and disruptions, the new leader is first of all driven by convictions, the ability to explore possible futures and to build fictions. While technology takes over the day-to-day tasks of organization, analysis and management, the new leader must focus on what is unique in humans, generate ideas and creative actions, build scenarios. A capacity for anticipation at the service of action. And it is outside the current “reasonable” recruitment channels that we must find new entrepreneurs capable of inventing these new random and reticular business models. Like the leaders of Silicon Valley who have understood that the future is not the product of reasonable actions but that it responds to other much more complex reasons. Peter Thiel and Alex Karp did philosophy; Steve Jobs, an art school; Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube studied literature and history; Tim O’Reilly, the great thinker of Silicon Valley, studied classical letters. “The ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket,” McAfee argues in his latest book, The second machine age.

Bring down the GAFA

Will artificial intelligence be a nightmare or a new utopia? No one (luckily) can anticipate it! But whatever the outcome of the emerging revolution, we cannot stay out of history with the sole objective of picking up the crumbs of growth. It is time to get our hands dirty like the Americans did thirty years ago and the Chinese more recently. Enter fully into the digital war, take a stand, confront the great digital powers to assert our “unique” place in the world and (once again) turn history on the right side … is the meaning of our collective, Bringing down the GAFAs, to awaken sleeping consciousness, to change our outlook on entrepreneurship, to identify, bring out and finance new “cultured” players from new sectors and new cultures. Actors driven by convictions and capable of committing beyond a logic of “business” (largely obsolete) to build an alternative to the world that Silicon Valley is inexorably drawing and which could turn out to be a nightmare tomorrow if we let us oppose it with force and determination new checks and balances.

Our initiative will soon be relayed by the press and social networks. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have your “say” [email protected] – @ ifbranding /

francois-nemoFrançois Nemo is Partner within ifbranding. He is a breakthrough strategy advisor.

Post published on Medium.