Published on 24 January 2024

Will AI enhance or distort our ‘vie de l’esprit’?

What is AI and how will it change our lives? As a self-confessed non-expert in the subject, renowned physicist and philosopher Etienne Klein shares his thoughts on this technology and how it provokes hope and concern.

Illustration d'Etienne Klein

AI is seen as a true technological revolution. And for good reason: in just a year, there has been massive development, particularly in consumer tools such as ChatGPT. 

While AI is here to stay, it raises many questions for scientist Etienne Klein as it does us all. How intelligent is AI? How does it compare with human capabilities? 

Beyond everything AI is already capable of doing, the philosopher wonders about its consequences on what he calls our “vie de l’esprit”. How will it impact humans? And above all, how can we prevent it running away from us and producing false or biased answers, which could then be misused? 

“A democratic society like ours should be able to discuss the type of relationship it wants with new technologies.”

Etienne Klein, philosopher and physiscist

Far from being just another innovation, AI requires proper consideration, supervision, and regulation to enable real progress. For example, what decisions should we agree to delegate to AI? How do we ensure it enables everyone to distinguish between true and false, and act accordingly? He feels these questions must be asked as part of a public debate.

More generally, the philosopher sees AI as a full-scale test of collective intelligence on humanity. Will it become an asset or a threat? In the end, will it bring out inherent qualities distinguishing it from other machines? 

To find out more, watch our video interview with Etienne Klein. 

Miniature d'Etienne Klein

Etienne Klein,
Philosopher and physiscist
Director at the CEA

Illustration vague orange sur fond noir

To see a sub-titled version of this video in French or English, activate the sub-title feature in the menu on the bottom right of the video.

AI, a machine capable of mimicking human intelligence
 0’00 to 4’01) 

Why innovation should not be confused with progress 
 4’01 to 8’15 )

Understanding science and technology to give them a purpose
 8’15 to 15’32 )

What differentiates a machine from a human being
(from 15’32 to 20’)