EDITORIAL. Beware of virtual friends – Sciences et Avenir

Dominique Leglu’s editorial is taken from Sciences et Avenir – La Recherche number 898, December 2021, which covers Iceland, the submerged continent. The magazine is available on all newsstands and in digital format.

Anyone who has heard the sailors of the ocean liner Jacques-Vabre talk about their ship these days will have felt how much they ended up being one with it. The latter becoming more or less a person we can really count on or not. Imagine the day when, equipped with an artificial intelligence endowed with natural language, the ship speaks to you, warning you of a weakness in its mast, predicting the strength of the waves or the formation of a hurricane. Nothing similar to definitively anthropomorphize the machine.

Robots arguing

By the way, who among us hasn’t found one day lecturing our own car when, on a cold winter morning, it refused to start? How are we going to behave in the future, following more and more frequent exchanges with chatbots, these “chatbots” or robots that argue, answering our questions and giving advice? It is already a reality for those who chat with Siri on their iPhone or with Amazon’s Alexa, calling on Disney to be implemented everywhere. Smooth handling. What will happen tomorrow with the development of the metaverse recently announced by Mark Zuckerberg (see p. 42)?

An extract from Sciences et Avenir – La Recherche number 898.

In this virtual universe, where everyone is supposed to live through their 3D avatar among other friendly avatars, how to detect pseudo-characters … Robots so persuasive they would be taken over by guardian angels. At a time when the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy (2018-2022) is entering its second phase, it is no coincidence that the National Pilot Committee for Digital Ethics (CNPEN) has issued an opinion on the ethical issues of chatbots. . Conversational agents are, in fact, powerful intermediaries in the digital system, so that the latter collects a great deal of data about our emotional reactions and our general behavior.

“Smooth handling”

An apprenticeship that, in turn, can allow insidiously exercising a “gentle manipulation”, explains Laurence Devillers, co-rapporteur of the CNPEN opinion, professor of AI and ethics (Paris-Sorbonne University, CNRS) that the readers of Sciences et Avenir – La Recherche know. know well. Stirring and lies. It is about time that standards frame the announced wave of chatbots, to avoid interference between humans and non-humans. Even a loss of reference points between life and death, when it becomes possible to continue the dialogue with a deceased person thanks to a “deadbot” that maintains its voice and appearance. What would be the time of mourning, indefinitely prolonged? Education is therefore essential from an early age, so that people are fully aware of this new reality. To prevent not only the addiction to images or the consumption of products from getting worse, but also lies and fake news are infiltrated, without our knowing it voluntarily. A challenge to democracy

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