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"When artificial intelligence plays the role of the useful idiot" - A column published in Les Echos by the French Philosopher Gabrielle Halpern #AI


The French philosopher Gabrielle Halpern published a column in the media Les Échos in which she shares her vision of artificial intelligence, and more precisely of generative artificial intelligence. Will AI replace all professions? How will generative AI transform us?


"Artificial intelligence is progressing day by day and is making increasingly obsolete the speeches beginning with “new technologies will never be able to…”, thus provoking a real questioning regarding the replacement of human beings in the achievement of a certain number increasing number of tasks. Will we still need marketing directors, lawyers, philosophers, painters, accountants, journalists or even writers? Will all these professions disappear?


If we look at generative artificial intelligence closely, we see that it draws its strength from its ability to master an incredible number of data and probabilities, to process it quickly and to provide us with a summary of it. Unless they have absolute memory, no human lawyer will ever be able to compete in assimilating such a large amount of data; this is the case for many other professions requiring a body of knowledge. Likewise, no artist or writer will ever be able to compete with the profusion and velocity of generative artificial intelligence in the production of texts or images. However, we can question the value of this production and, implicitly, question the value of our current productions, as human beings. Indeed, if we take the profession of researcher as an example, this profession is unfortunately too often evaluated according to the number of its article publications in prestigious scientific journals, which poses a real question as to the role of the researcher in the Cité, regarding the dissemination of his work to the greatest number and regarding the relationship between science and society. From the moment that generative artificial intelligence is capable of producing a high number of research articles very quickly, does this render the profession of researcher obsolete or, on the contrary, does this not constitute a salutary questioning? evaluation criteria through which we consider these professionals, and therefore the distorted meaning of their profession?


In fact, artificial intelligence appears to be a sort of revealer of blind spots, unsaid things or flaws in our way of proceeding. Indeed, if teachers are alarmed by the use of ChatGPT at home, is it not time to shine a spotlight on the terrible inequality that homework constitutes, as a general rule? If there is a form of equality in homework at school, homework has always caused inequality between children who can be helped by their parents and those who cannot, between those who work in good conditions, with an office in a quiet room and those who are not lucky enough to benefit from it. The question is therefore not to ban or accept ChatGPT, the question is perhaps to increase the number of exercises and homework on the table and the hours of supported work in study compared to homework at home so that there are fewer social and educational inequalities.


If we take the profession of a legal director, it can happen in the profession that, upon the conclusion of a partnership between two entities, the legal director sends a standard contract with generic clauses, without thinking about the accuracy of this contract having regard to the uniqueness of the other stakeholder and the action to be carried out together. Now, doesn't all the salt of the legal profession lie in this back and forth between reality and the law? Isn't that the beauty of this magnificent profession, not to mention that the new hybrid realities fall less and less into our legal categories and therefore involve hybridizing rights? This is where artificial intelligence perhaps brings a healthy questioning: such jurists will indeed be very easily replaced... Which will then allow other jurists, trained differently and working differently, to flourish and to imagine singular and fair contracts, - in the sense of justice and accuracy -, capable of translating reality without hurting it.


Artificial intelligence, which constitutes a sort of caricature of human rationality and its difficulty in embracing the world, will make us aware of the absurdity of our own reasoning mechanisms which mutilate reality and will perhaps make us more intelligent …Artificial intelligence undoubtedly plays the role of a useful idiot!", Gabrielle Halpern


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