POLICY AND TECHNOLOGY

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On Tuesday, November 27, 2018, the House of Books organized a debate entitled « Progress chosen or suffered? » Several representatives of the parties of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation (Ecolo, CDH, PS, MR and PTB) were questioned on the political outlook in terms of robotics, artificial intelligence, but also « augmented » or hybridized man, the supervision or not of the digital giants, the place of Europe in front of the USA and China, the ecological, demographic and geopolitical consequences of progress, the smart-cities, algorithmic governance, threats to employment and democracy… Antoine De Borman for the CDH, Corentin de Salle for the MR, Mohssin El Ghabri for Ecolo, Michaël Verbauwhede for the PTB and Isabelle Emmery for the PS were present.

A CONTROVERSIAL SUBJECT, REALLY?

Without going back over what each person said, here is what can be retained from the messages carried by the different parties. On the MR side, technologies should be used to build a truly ecological society. According to their representative, giving up our model would mean killing the economic and industrial engine, the only one capable of achieving the ecological transition. In his vision, every problem should be transformed into an economic development opportunity in order to move towards this authentic ecological society. In short, for every ecological problem there is a so-called green solution: green kerosene, smart agriculture, globalization of the renewable energy market(1).

In the PS, one could describe the positions expressed by the so-called socialist party as extreme center as described by Alain Deneault(2), with in particular a focus on their reformist policies voted with pride to accommodate digital survival.

In Ecolo, on 5G, a crucial subject that concerns the modification of our living environment, the message seemed promising, recalling that Ecolo had  » a lot of reticence already on 4G for health reasons and that it has certainly not improved « . Unfortunately, Mohssin El Ghabri still makes it a technical issue, through a reflection on the impoverishment of democracy:  » We would reach such a level of complexity that eludes elected politicians that we would have to call on intermediaries who often come from the private sector to help us understand the texts of the laws . Disarming level of depoliticization! Ecolo (as well as the other parties) could get information from Inter-Environment Brussels and from the numerous articles of Kairos, including the one by Alexandre Penasse,  » L’illusion technocratique à la lumière de la 5G « , in order to get more serious information on this issue.

If we address the members of Ecolo in particular, it is with the hope of being able to argue and debate serenely on subjects which are historically subjects carried by the ecologists. The question of technocracy is a political subject that touches on the living, on the choice of the society in which we wish to live, on the possibility of living independently.

About the taxation of robots, the representative of Ecolo said:  » I do not know how to define a robot, Excel is a robot, it has replaced floors and floors of secretaries who organized the data . An anecdote among others, which symbolizes the surprising remarks of Mohssin El Ghabri on the theme of progress. No, Excel is not a robot but rather a software program. This is not comparable to the robots that are being introduced little by little into retirement homes, agricultural facilities, or the algorithms that govern the vast majority of stock market trading.

Mohssin El Ghabri pleads for  » the ecological transition « , which seems unifying in these times of march for the climate where one asks the politicians  » to act  » but one does not know how different it is from the one proposed by the MR. In any case, it appears to be a miracle cure for a resilient and friendly society.

The PTB is more critical, especially of platform capitalism. The words seem to show more ambition in the face of GAFAM and the technological world that is imposed on all of us. Unfortunately, it is difficult to read between the lines a refusal of inhuman technologies (which aim to erase the human), antisocial, which accelerate the degradation of nature, our health and our brains(3).

As Matthieu Amiech, a member of the Marcuse Group, says:  » In order to organize collectively, there must first be a widely shared desire to oppose and, for the moment, it does not exist, unfortunately! A new common sense of the political and social problems posed by the digitalization of our lives should emerge. For example, the fact that digital technology makes the whole world immediately (without mediation) available to us, that this is not desirable… and that it cannot last. « (4)

OPINION IS SOMETHING TO BE WORKED ON

What was in the press on the day this article was written? A big page ad on the back cover of Politico, the weekly magazine of the European bubble (distributed by the dozen in the cafés of Brussels):  » 5 G is Greener « . Who paid for this ad? The Chinese giant Huawei! This image alone illustrates the gag that is the ranting against the Chinese multinational, as dangerous as the American, European, Japanese or other Big Tech .

In Le Soir, on the front page, the Techno instant:  » Robots will be our next pets « , title of the last page (no, I didn’t misread!). The page is entitled « Robots dreaming of being pets « . But of course! Too immersed in a technophile environment and as a special envoy to Las Vegas, the author of this report did not think to title, for example, « Robots of all types for multiple profits ». About these robots,  » particularly cute « , two academics are interviewed. The first one, particularly enthusiastic, is a professor emeritus in psychology and speaks like a salesman completely seduced by the product. The second is more nuanced. Unfortunately, as is often the case in Le Soir, the journalist chooses to give the floor to the first academic in a tone that could be described as fatalistic and optimistic. We do not question the real utility and the social, anthropological, sanitary, ecological impacts…  » Robots will come to us once their price is democratized and we will become attached to their presence. It is a virtual certainty « . Le Soir, like the vast majority of the media and politicians, is working well on this normalization.

Robin Delobel

Notes et références
  1. Voir ce qu’il en est de l’éolien industriel dans l’article sur l’Amassada, Kairos de septembre 2019.
  2. « de l’extrême centre », éditions Lux, 2017.
  3. Un texte essentiel « Nos cerveaux, Zone à défendre prioritaire », http://www.piecesetmain-doeuvre.com/IMG/pdf/zad_des_cerveaux.pdf
  4. Groupe Marcuse : « Notre libre-arbitre est aspiré par Internet », 19/08/2019. https://www.marianne.net/debattons/entretiens/groupe-marcuse-notre-libre-arbitre-est-aspire-par-internet. Autre proposition de lecture : La liberté dans le coma, du groupe Marcuse (Editions La Lenteur), les auteurs proposent de replacer la critique de l’informatisation et de la vie inistrée au cœur des luttes sociales et politiques.
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