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The digital revolution: at humanity's expense?

6 episodes
  • 1
    “Behind AI, there is an army of underpaid microworkers”
  • 2
    “The digital transformation must be aligned with ecology”
  • 3
    Employees of the web giants contribute most to open source software
  • 4
    “Digital platforms have poor control over their manipulation of emotions”
  • 5
    Why so much demand for our personal data?
  • 6
    Digital economy: “our attention during free time has value for business”
Épisode 1/6
On June 8th, 2021
4 mins reading time
Antonio Casilli
Antonio Casilli
Sociologist, Professor at Télécom Paris (IP Paris), and Associate Researcher at LACI-IIAC of EHESS

Key takeaways

  • “Micro-work”, paid pennies for very simple and repetitive tasks done online, directly from home, is a new form of work that is flourishing on digital platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk.
  • Workers included 260,000 people in France in 2019, and 100 million worldwide. Yet their situation often goes unnoticed and is often precarious.
  • Even though microworkers are more qualified than the average (43.5% have at least a bachelor’s degree), they are paid a few pennies per hour.
  • For Antonio Casilli, the political recognition of this form of work is therefore necessary and will have to go through a greater redistribution of the profits of the digital giants.
Épisode 2/6
On June 8th, 2021
3 mins reading time
Unknown
Jacques-François Marchandise
Delegate General of the Fing

Key takeaways

  • For Jacques-François Marchandise, the digital solutions meant to serve the ecological transition are often counterproductive, and likely to worsen the problems they seek to solve (5G, carpooling, mass deployment of sensors and real-time measurements).
  • Moreover, the manufacture of devices represents 70% of the carbon footprint of the digital industry in France.
  • Increasing the reparability of products is therefore one of the key issues to improve its environmental impact in the long term.
  • Jacques-François Marchandise offers insight into how the digital revolution - which lacks a precise goal but has significant resources - can truly serve the ecological transition.
Épisode 3/6
Laure Muselli, Lecturer in information systems management at Télécom Paris and researcher at the Interdisciplinary Institute of Innovation (I³-SES/CNRS)
On June 8th, 2021
4 mins reading time
laure muselli
Laure Muselli
Lecturer in information systems management at Télécom Paris and researcher at the Interdisciplinary Institute of Innovation (I³-SES/CNRS)
Stefano Zacchiroli
Stefano Zacchiroli
Lecturer at the University of Paris, on assignment at Inria
Unknown
Fred Pailler
Sociologist and post-doctoral researcher at C²DH (Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History)
Unknown
Mathieu O’Neil
Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Canberra

Key takeaways

  • The idea of “open source” retains an image of an ecosystem that is independent of tech giants, being collaborative and voluntary.
  • But in reality the opposite is true: web giants have been very interested and investing in open source software for years.
  • It is in fact among the biggest digital companies (the tech giants, but also Intel, Huawei, Samsung...) that we find the biggest contributors to open source projects.
  • As such, only 15% of Linux code is produced by unpaid contributors.
  • This manifests itself in particular in changes relating to intellectual property: more and more open source licenses are modified with the aim of keeping hold of the software developed.
Épisode 4/6
On June 8th, 2021
4 mins reading time
Camille Alloing
Camille Alloing
Professor of Public Relations at the Université du Québec à Montréal

Key takeaways

  • The Cambridge Analytica scandal and other cases have recently alerted citizens to the possibility of social networks manipulating votes by playing on their emotions.
  • But for researcher Camille Alloing, social networks knowingly overestimate their capacity for manipulation in order to sell advertising space.
  • In the same way, platforms such as Facebook have conducted psychological experiments on the emotions of hundreds of thousands of their users...
  • And doing so without their knowledge based on a caricatured and unreliable conception of emotion, with the sole aim of providing credit for their hypothetical capacity of manipulation.
Épisode 5/6
On June 8th, 2021
4 mins reading time
Marie-Laure Denis
Marie-Laure Denis
State Councillor and President of CNIL

Key takeaways

  • Personal data – which includes all information that identifies a person, from their location to their biometric fingerprints – is particularly sought after by companies, as it allows for better targeting of advertising.
  • The CNIL (Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés) is responsible for protecting the personal data of French citizens, notably by enforcing European GDPR.
  • Marie-Laure Denis, president of the CNIL, looks back at the many changes in the European regulatory framework that occurred in 2020, which have improved data protection in EU member states.
  • She also explains how personal data can also be essential to conduct effective public policies – especially in the context of the health crisis.
Épisode 6/6
On June 8th, 2021
4 mins reading time
Unknown
Yann Moulier Boutang
Professor of Economics at Université de Technologie de Compiègne

Key takeaways

  • For Yann Moulier Boutang, we are currently entering a new capitalist model, which he calls “cognitive” – no longer based on physical work, but on brain activity.
  • He says that a parallel can be drawn between the positive externalities generated by digital technology (creativity, cooperation, etc.) and pollination: for a long time, humans have focused on selling honey (the finished product), whereas the most productive activity of bees was pollination, which generates between 500 and 5,000 times more value.
  • This model of massive data capture and processing has brought about a real revolution in science, with a return to the inductive method based on collective intelligence, which has made it possible to solve problems as complex as that of the “translation machine”.
  • But it also raises the question of the commodification of our leisure time, and of intellectual property.

Contributors

laure muselli

Laure Muselli

Lecturer in information systems management at Télécom Paris and researcher at the Interdisciplinary Institute of Innovation (I³-SES/CNRS)

Laure Muselli's research focuses on how new logics such as digital transformation or open source change work, professions, identities and practices within organisations.