Why This Site ?
12 décember 2000)
end of the XXth century and the beginning of the XXIth announce,
we believe, huge changes in the possible impact of our species
on the world, including itself, and consequently on our understanding
of the world, and of ourselves.
Such changes, barring unforeseen accidents, will reach their
full impact potential in the first decades of this century,
and continue, with constant acceleration, in the following
decades. This means that a child who is today ten years old
will be able to, at the end of his life, see our conception
of the universe and of human beings with the same view, interested
but with a global difficulty to understand, that we have of
ancient and feudal societies.
begin, we have to bear in mind that, if no action is taken,
such prodigious changes will only be understandable, and manageable,
for a very small minority of persons, who belong to socially
and intellectually privileged population layers of the Western
world, and in particular of the United States. Moreover, all
advances will be discussed and communicated in English. In
some, but not all cases, Europe will be able to stay afloat.
All other persons, as well as all other living beings, will
be affected by changes, but will have to passively accept
them, in some cases for the best as far as they are concerned,
but probably more often for the worse. At the same time, it
will be possible to devise new policies aimed at sharing and
balancing the access to knowledge and power. It will also
be necessary to establish a more balanced distribution of
power which, despite the declarations of intent of politicians,
does not appear close at this moment.
warnings must not lead to a negative or "catastrophist" judgment
of the coming changes - which will take place unstoppably
anyway, as far as we can foresee, due to the selective advantages
that they will bring to those who will exploit them. On the
contrary, such changes should be considered by everyone, and
especially by young people, as something that will open incredibly
exciting and productive options. They will really represent,
to use a familiar image, new frontiers to cross, opening infinite
new territories to explore.
which domains will the changes that we foresee take place?
One could think of space exploration, advances in high energy
physics and cosmology, and to the development of new, renewable
and environmentally clean sources of energy (basically derived
from solar energy). But in our opinion such advances, which
will certainly take place in this century, will appear as
a by-product, if we can describe them with this word, of much
more fundamental developments. These will take place in the
domains of artificial life and intelligence, genetic engineering,
and decoding the detailed functions of the brain.
important point that must be stressed is that, despite the
over-specialization still too common among researchers, these
three research domains will only attain their full impact
if their practitioners will learn to collaborate according
to the model proposed by Gérald Edelman. In summary, it will
be necessary to systematically foster redundancy and re-entrance,
by accepting the permanent selection of the solution most
fit to competitive survival. Redundancy means that different
techniques (electronic, genetic, neurological) will be able
to, and will have to, converge toward the same goals or functions
accepting, if necessary, some operational degradation. Re-entrance,
more difficult to define, means that any change in a domain
or sub domain will have to be immediately transmitted and
transferred to each and every other domain and, in turn, all
reactions to such transmission or transfer will have to be
immediately retransmitted to each and every other domain,
including the initial generator domain. The development of
high-bandwidth interactive networks, parallel or linear, can
today propose solutions for re-entrance which were difficult
to envisage in the past, due to the delays and the complexity
of conventional publishing and communication.
societal model that will emerge from this evolution, a model
which it will be important to promote, will be based on complexity
and fast reactivity. Gérald Edelman has defined the complexity
of a system as "an optimal synthesis of functional specialisation
and integration within the system". In other words, every
actor performs his function in the best possible way but permanently
informing all other actors who, in turn, will introduce appropriate
modifications in performing their own functions. Reactivity,
or in other words the reaction and response times after an
exchange, should ideally approach biologic and molecular reaction
times or, to simplify, aim at a performances better than the
typical reaction times of administration and politics. A society
that meets these two requirements will never, evidently, be
static or able to be described by objective synthetic definitions.
Actually, it will be a process-based society, embodying itself
in as well as developing itself through the activities or
actions of its various actors, and thus partly coercive and
limiting for all actors.
Therefore, with the creation of the site Automates intelligents,
we wish to contribute to:
as much as possible and disseminating to the citizens the
works and thinking in the sciences and technologies targeted,
in political and philosophical terms, the works and perspectives
a site in French,exploiting the possibilities of the Internet,
and aimed at facilitating the access to the sources as well
as the publication of documents and information produced.
For the longer term, if the resources available will permit
it, we wish to publish also in English -or simultaneously
in 3 or 4 languages- to create a site with a European dimension,
a community as wide as possible around the technology domains
targeted, by working interactively with the readers: we
have great expectations for the results of the contribution
of scientists and philosophers to the life of this site.
Baquiast et Christophe Jacquemin
*Gerald Edelman: Comment
la matière devient conscience - Editions Odile