technologies

The French in the face of technological progress: It's good, but not for children!

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In order to understand and analyse the perception of the French people with regard to technology and its place in the future, the Académie des technologies (1) and OpinionWay have conducted a survey which tells us that the French are very interested in technology (79%) but at the same time worried about it (38%) and there are 68% who fear that technology brings at least as many dangers as opportunities for their children .
 
« Lhe French society today is afraid of the future." stated in the book "Reinventing Progress"...(2) the economic journalist Philippe Frémeaux. Indeed, we must adapt to technological change and, as Michel Cartier explained in his book published in 2001, "What kind of society do we want to leave to our children? » (3), "It is much easier to modify an electronic circuit or a product than a behaviour. »
The unstoppable rise of technology, through industrialization, biotechnologies, the revolution in agricultural production, the multiplication of services, ... creates an increasing interdependence both within and between nations. So, following the example of Tocqueville, to reassure the French, we should safeguard the freedom of individuals within democracy or, as General de Gaulle wished, safeguard "the soul and dignity of men, the freedom of citizens" from the massification and uniformity of technology. (4). For is not the problem underlying these concerns to give technology a direction that puts it at the service of individuals and the general interest? 
49% of the French perceive their country as the leader in technological progress in healthcare. Aeronautics and aerospace (35%) are the next most popular, followed in third place by automobiles (18%). Only 10 %s see technology as a leader in artificial intelligence or 7 %s in green tech. Nevertheless, they consider that technological progress is inevitable, as it is now integrated into their daily lives with innovations such as the Internet, the smartphone, PMA, etc. In this context where it becomes impossible to avoid it, the French expect more information about the consequences of technology, especially those that are controversial. How can we master the ever-recurring technology and endless progress that seems to be taking man and civilization along in an endless whirlwind of innovation and power? How can we prevent man's demiurgic dream, gradually being realized thanks to technology, from becoming a diabolical world tomorrow?
 
The French are massively interested in technology, but it is a source of concern for 38% and 68% of them fear that it brings at least as many dangers as opportunities for their children.

79% of the French are mainly interested in technology and its development. This interest is more pronounced among certain strata of the population such as men (89% vs. 70% of women), young people aged 18 to 24 (85%), executives (86%) - three populations traditionally more sensitive to technological subjects - as well as French people living in the Ile-de-France region (83%), where the capital, home of innovations and a concentration of new technologies, shines.

The French people in particular stress its positive impact on various aspects of their lives. In professional life, 471 % see technology as an added value, but 52 % see at least as many dangers as opportunities.
Fear increases when we talk about children. Indeed 68 % of the French say that technologies bring more dangers than opportunities or at least as many opportunities as dangers for their children. 
 
The gap between men and women widens when considering the positive impact of technology in daily life (38% of women vs. 48%). Because they have experienced the dematerialization of work tools and techniques, 50-64 year olds of all sexes are particularly enthusiastic about the opportunities created by technology in working life.
The French's interest in technology is expressed even through their personal consumption habits, with 40% of respondents saying they like to buy the latest technology. Once again, men (48%), younger people (58% of French people aged 18 to 24), executives (51%) but also the people from Ile-de-France (51%) stand out for their greater sensitivity to technology. 66% of French people believe that technological progress is synonymous with progress for humanity, and more specifically the people from Ile-de-France (80%), and the under 35s (73%).
 

But the French, and the younger ones, don't hide their anxiety

Nevertheless, the French cannot conceal their concerns about technology, which is perceived as generating constraints and potentially creating problems. In particular, they express reservations about the dangers their children will encounter.
Women (33%) are more concerned than men about the future of their children. Those under 35 years of age are the most worried about technology overall, whether it is the future of their children (37% vs. 29% on average), in their working life (19% vs. 14%) or in their daily personal life (18% vs. 14%). It can be assumed that having always known and grown up with the greatest technological advances, young people are less able to recognize the positive changes in their daily lives.
 
For Bruno Jarry, President of the Academy of Technologies "The French, and young people in particular, are interested in technology, boasting its benefits, while at the same time expressing reservations. They express a need for information about its repercussions on both a personal and professional level. The role of the Académie des technologies is precisely to shed light on subjects as varied as ecological transition, construction, health and robotics. The expertise of our 316 members is complementary and we can thus bring elements to the French, who are asking to be better involved in decisions on technologies".
 

Technological progress is inevitable

Still, the French consider that nothing and no one can stop the development of technology, because it is now integrated into our daily lives with innovations such as the Internet, the Smartphone, PMA, etc..
In this context where it becomes impossible to avoid technology, 85% of the French are waiting for more information about the consequences of technology, especially those that are controversial.
The father of the artificial heart, Alain Carpentier, is the French personality who best embodies progress in France (26%), followed by Roland Moreno, the man behind the smart card (16%) and astronaut Thomas Pesquet (15%).
 

Technology for everyday life in demand

For 67% of the French, the Internet appears by far to be the biggest technological advance of the 21st century, followed by the smartphone (41%), whose market has expanded particularly since 2007 and the marketing of the iPhone. It is not surprising to see these two elements, symbols of today's communication, at the top of the rankings as their access has become so democratized.
 
 
The Internet has had a much greater impact on senior citizens (77%) than on young people aged 18 to 24 (57%) "digital natives" who have always known it. Conversely, the smartphone, a more recent innovation, is cited more by the youngest (45%) than by the oldest (39%), but also by those who like to buy the latest technology (45%).
 
Then come the geolocation process (20%, 28% among seniors), digital payments (20%), the autonomous car (19%), electric mobility (13%), social networks (9%), the bionic man (7%), automatic cash registers (6%) and GMOs (4%).
 

The French perceive the medical sector as the main technological progress at the service of society.

From a public interest perspective, the technologies perceived as the major advances of the 21st century are linked to the medical sector. The third and fourth technologies perceived as the main advances of the 21st century are related to the medical sector, with robotics in health (38%), which allows to achieve what has long been considered impossible for human beings in the treatment of rare diseases, and medically assisted procreation (23%), which is currently at the centre of public debate. Medically assisted procreation, the fourth innovation mentioned, is mainly mentioned by women (29%) who are twice as numerous as men (15%).
 
Health remains the area that most crystallizes the hopes and expectations of the French people: it is both considered to be the area in which France is best known for technological innovation and the one in which they expect the most progress.
 
Sciences such as biotechnology (16%) and nanotechnology (14%) are in fourth and sixth place. Specific techniques such as 3D printing (10%), Artificial Intelligence (10%) and Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (7%) are lagging behind.
 
Many of these latter technologies are linked to the first ones at the top of the ranking: this is the case of social networks with the Internet, of the bionic man with health robotics, or the geolocation system and digital payments used in some smartphone applications. These technologies are only in the second half of the ranking, as the French have above all cited those they know best, more generic and flagship technologies.
 

The Faces of Technological Progress

These two sectors, health and new forms of communication, are also reflected in personality traits. Alain Carpentier, the surgeon who created and implanted the first autonomous artificial heart, is the Frenchman who best embodies technological progress in France (26%) and Bill Gates, creator of Microsoft but also of the MSN Internet portal, Hotmail and Live Messenger instant messaging, is at the top of the international ranking (32%).
 
 
With a model like Alain Carpentier, it is hardly surprising that the French perceive their country above all as one of the leaders in technological innovation in health and medical research (49%) ahead of aeronautics and space - yet a strong asset for France (35%).
 
Among the Frenchmen embodying progress, Alain Carpentier is ahead of Roland Moreno, the father of the smart card (16%) and astronaut Thomas Pesquet (15%).
 
Among the foreign personalities, the Americans trust the first places. Bill Gates is ahead of his peers Steve Jobs (16%, 20% among high-tech enthusiasts), but also Elon Musk (10%), Larry Page (8%) and Mark Zuckerberg (4%).
 
 
If we want young people to take root in our advanced technology societies, prosper and simply be happy there, we must ask ourselves how French political society has shaped civil society: it has not prepared it to observe the signs but, by giving priority to teaching concepts, has transformed it into a set of passive consumers of technologies developed elsewhere. Regardless of their initial environment, children there have been subjected to the same pedagogical guidelines and the same umpteenth attempts at reform designed to catch up with the evolution of concepts.
Paradox of paradoxes, what better than technology to help our youth to be informed, to think about the world to come? Like explains Laurent Bigorgne, director of the Montaigne Institute, "New tools and infrastructures are revolutionizing the education system and helping to increase access to knowledge worldwide. The technological revolution and the digitisation of learning processes are more than ever an opportunity to access quality courses. The revolution triggered by technology in the field of education offers immense opportunities that must be seized. Not only does digitization improve access to educational content, but it is also a springboard for everyone to adapt to new occupations in a rapidly changing world. »
 
There is an urgent need to train future citizens, from the earliest age, with educational concepts adapted to grasp current and future technologies. These are educational issues that must become fundamental knowledge, in the same way as learning to read or calculate.

 
 
 
(1) The Academy of Technologies
The Academy of Technologies, chaired by Bruno Jarry, is a national public administrative institution under the supervision of the Minister in charge of research. Created in 2000, it has been under the protection of the President of the Republic since 2013. The Academy brings together 316 academics, experts in their field: technologists, engineers and industrialists, but also researchers, agronomists, architects, doctors, sociologists, economists, with a strong representation of R&D directors of industrial companies.
Heiress of the Age of Enlightenment, her motto: "For a reasoned progress chosen, shared", reflects the deep conviction that technology is a source of progress for the whole of humanity.
It contributes to the governance of technological issues, through the commitment of its members in reflection and decision-making bodies (National Research Strategy process and High Council for Science and Technology, Innovation 2030 Commission, EESC, OPECST, ANR...).
It participates in the development of the reflections carried out at the international or European level. It provides the General Secretariat of EURO-CASE, which federates 23 European academies (i.e. 6,000 members). Its mission: It is defined by the law of 18 April 2006 in the following way: "The Académie des technologies has the task of conducting discussions, formulating proposals and issuing opinions on issues relating to technologies and their interaction with society". The Academy of Technologies examines questions submitted to it by members of the Government. It may itself take up any topic within the scope of its missions.
(2) " Réinventer le progrès " by Pascal Canfin and Laurent Berger - Edition Les petits matins, 2016 - Interviews with Philippe Frémeaux.
(3) "What kind of society do we want to leave to our children? "by Michel Cartier - Edition d'Organisation and Les Echos éditions, 2001.
(4) " De Gaulle et la technologie " by Gilles Marchandon and Patrice Noailles - Preface by Professor Stanley Hoffmann - Editions Seillans, 1994.
(5) Source: Huffingtonpost". Technology and people", 2012.
 

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