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de 12:00 à 13:30

Paris - Weekly Seminar

Second Session: Automation – Digital Anthropology

Second MOST/GEG Seminar on "Human Sciences and Social Transformations".

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Among the technological paradigms that are transforming our societies, artificial intelligence (AI) is particularly salient, due to the speed, scale and scope of its development and pervasiveness. As generative AI models such as Chat GPT’s went viral, they caught the attention of the broader public, well beyond experts’ circles, raising fears of rapid and profound structural changes that may irrevocably change the way we work, live and interact, undermining the very fabric of societies and democracies.

The impact of artificial intelligence on humanity and societies will be at the centre of the second MOST/GEG Seminar on "Human Sciences and Social Transformations".

AI is likely to redefine tasks, identities and relations that tie our societies together. Considering that work is part of the human activities that structure societies, given the division of tasks that characterizes it, and since machines will likely perform a growing share of tasks more efficiently or less expensively, how will work relationships evolve? Would this transformation lead to mass unemployment, as initially feared, or rather transform the work of each and every one of us, although to a different extent depending on whether and how much people will need to work with or interact with AI, as recent studies posit? As new technologies shape hierarchies and balances between e.g. employers and employees it is important to understand how all this may change social ties and structures.

The evolution of AI depends on human decisions, and societies have options to influence the course of this transformation through collective choice, such as accelerating the implementation of UNESCO Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence. What can States do to ensure societies are ready for the AI transformation? How to make sure we have the right regulations in place? What is the human capital needed to work with AI, also withing government institutions? Are legislators and decision makers be able to keep pace with evolving and emerging technologies? Will AI deepen inequalities across and within States, and impact large segments of our societies before bringing its fruits to societies? Are states able address skills shortages and skills needs through the development and deployment of effective large-scale educational and skilling initiatives? Have we invested enough in Governments’ capacities for them to be able to keep abreast and steer the AI transformation? What are the lessons that can be learnt from the private sector? Can social sciences help bring about new concepts and frameworks that could guide policy efforts to address this trend, at the national and international levels?


Chair: François Candelon, Global Director du Henderson Institute du Boston Consulting Group.

Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO.

Aaron Benanav, author of Automation and the Future of Work (2022).

Hanan Salam, Co-Founder at Women in AI, Assistant Professor at NYU Abu Dhabi

Papa Amadou Sarr, Executive Director for Mobilisation Partnerships and Communication, Agence française de développement, former Minister, Delegate General for Rapid Entrepreneurship of Women and Youth (DER) at the Presidency of the Republic of Senegal


Broussard, Meredith. Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World, MIT Press, 2018.

Benanav, Aaron, Automation and the Future of Work, Verso Books, 2020.

Brynjolfsson, Erik and McAfee, Andrew. The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies. W.W. Norton & Company, 2014.

Carbonell, Juan Sebastián, Le futur du travail, Editions Amsterdam, 2022.

Eubanks, Virginia. Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor. St. Martin's Press, 2018.

Ford, Martin. Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. Basic Books, 2015.

Fuchs, Christian. Social Media and the Society of the Spectacle. Routledge, 2014.

Lee, Kai-Fu. AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018.

Malhotra, Rajiv. Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Power: 5 Battlegrounds. SK Publishers, 2021.

Nourbakhsh, Illah Reza. Robot Futures. MIT Press, 2013.

O'Neil, Cathy. Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy. Crown Publishing, 2016.

Zuboff, Shoshana. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. PublicAffairs, 2019.

Upcoming sessions

3.    Homo continens – Climate Anthropology – 23 June 2023

Humans in the age of war ecology.

Will this era of reduced energy consumption, made necessary by climate change and urgently needed in Europe by the war in Ukraine, herald a shift from the human consumer (homo consumens) to the human of restraint (homo continens)? How do global transformations affect individuals and their place in society?

4.    Techno-feudalism – Digital Sociology – 21 September 2023

The reconfiguration of power relations between the state and digital companies.

How can we understand and describe power relations between public authorities and tech companies? Can we speak of "techno-feudalism", i.e. a configuration where web lords reign over geographically and socially fragmented digital communities? How can we fight against the negative consequences that digital life could have on our democracies?

5.    Planification – Economic Sociology – 30 October 2023

The reconfiguration of the relationship between the state and future.

The pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and climate change have revived the concept of 'planning', the idea of long-term planned state intervention to deal with disease, war, climate disasters and the transformation of our energy systems. What kind of relationship with future uncertainties is entailed in economic planning? Beyond anticipating disasters, what is the ideal human society that the various forms of planning pursue? Do states have sufficient analytical tools at their disposal, or are they forced to call on expertise from outside their borders, from international organizations, or private institutions?

[1] “What Happens to Workers at Firms that Automate?” James Bessen, Maarten Goos, Anna Salomons and Wiljan van den Berge, Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming.