In a lengthy interview with the magazine WiredBarack Obama has made a dense and particularly enlightening analysis of the role and dangers of Artificial Intelligence. We would like our French policies, on the eve of important elections, to have a similar viewpoint on a subject that already has a profound impact on entire chapters of the economy, education, health, knowledge, and which will be at the heart of our societies in the years to come..
D’At the outset, Barack Obama said: " My successor will have to govern a country transformed by AI... ». Without evading any questions, the American president explains how AI has crept into our daily lives almost surreptitiously, in different areas of everyday life. One thinks of Bernard Stigler who explains in his latest book (La Disruption) how disruptive innovations have the capacity to install states of affairs that defy the law, morals and the most established habits, without us noticing it immediately.
For Barack Obama, the AI issue must leave nothing to chance; it cannot be left to private firms or the whims of the markets. What is at stake obliges governments, especially his own, to assume their responsibility and to set up guidelines. Political decision making is thus rehabilitated for sectors such as digital technology, whose consequences are profoundly long-term.
That is why the U.S. government has issued two important reports, in the form of a roadmap and a warning on the subject.
Le first report indicates the courses of action to be taken for each part of the administration.
At government ensure its responsibility to analyse the risks of AI and assess whether existing laws cover them well. The decision to open roads and highways to self-propelled cars is an example.
In terms ofeducation, Obama wants to develop an AI-competent workforce. He wants citizens to be sufficiently informed and trained to understand and interpret policy decisions as well as the innovations that are constantly coming to market.
In terms of workObama points out how AI will lead to job losses and increase inequality. He proposes that public policies should be organised to ensure the widest possible redistribution of the economic benefits of AI. He believes that the social model needs to be rethought, and speaks bluntly about the issue of universal income, which he believes will be the key debate in the next 10 or 20 years.
Finally, the issue of security. The threat of a stand-alone A.I. associated with a weapons system is no longer science fiction. President Obama wants international cooperation to be put in place to avoid any danger.
Le second report defines the main research priorities. These include the development of effective methods for human-machine collaboration, the understanding and resolution of ethical, legal and societal issues, and the need to make public the databases used to train AI.
As we can see, President Obama goes into the details of a subject he seems perfectly familiar with and which he makes a major issue in the short term. Let us hope that he will be able to set an example for other leaders, too often mired in their petty political squabbles and deaf to major changes in the world.