Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the spotlight: activism, ethics, and governance in the digital age

February 23, 2024
Tink - L'intelligence artificielle (IA) sous les projecteurs-1

This text is part of our series of 6 articles on the main digital trends in 2024.


From Anonymous to WikiLeaks, including whistleblowers like Edward Snowden or Frances Haugen, technological activism has never ceased to evolve in recent years! Indeed, we are witnessing a collective awareness of the possible impacts of major technologies on current society, particularly concerning artificial intelligence (AI).

Learn more about activism related to AI, which will undoubtedly continue to gain importance in the coming years!

The challenges of AI according to Yoshua Bengio

A true pioneer in artificial intelligence, Yoshua Bengio advocates for stricter regulations to minimize the risks associated with this technology. His media interventions, notably on Radio-Canada and Al Jazeera, have contributed to raising public awareness about important issues related to artificial intelligence:

  • Privacy protection and data security: Bengio emphasizes the importance of transparency and the protection of personal data, a crucial issue in the face of the massive accumulation of data by technology companies.
  • Bias and fairness in AI: the researcher also underscores the need to establish AI systems free from discriminatory biases related to gender, race, or social belonging, advocating for fair and inclusive technologies.
  • Responsibility and governance of AI: he also calls for structured and effective governance to establish clear responsibilities in case of errors or damages caused by artificial intelligence systems.

Yoshua Bengio also had the opportunity to address these issues before the U.S. Congress, where he was invited, along with other experts, to discuss the future of AI in our society. The Montreal researcher took the opportunity to emphasize how urgent it is to establish mechanisms to regulate artificial intelligence, a position he will undoubtedly continue to defend in the coming years!

The challenges of AI according to Aza Raskin and Tristan Harris

Former employees of Google and founders of the Center for Humane Technology, Aza Raskin and Tristan Harris have also emerged as important figures in AI activism. They are particularly interested in the impact of algorithms on human behavior, especially concerning social media addiction and online advertising mechanisms.

In their podcast 'Your Undivided Attention,' the two experts seek to demystify technologies like artificial intelligence and expose their effects on society. They have addressed how digital platforms can shape perceptions and social interactions through recommendation algorithms, unconsciously influencing users' choices and preferences.

Raskin and Harris's research on the influence of technology on humanity is particularly relevant in the political context of 2024, where approximately 4 billion people worldwide will be invited to the polls! Recent analyses indeed demonstrate that generative AI could transform the way political campaigns are conducted and influence voters in their choices. In other words, artificial intelligence could play a significant role in the creation and dissemination of manufactured content, raising concerns about the integrity of democratic processes worldwide.

Raskin and Harris are clear: this ability of AI to generate quick political responses and precisely target messages according to voters clearly demonstrates the urgency of further regulating the use of this technology. Their activism and public communication work on AI are crucial for raising awareness and educating the public about these ethical issues, which can have a direct impact on democracy.

The challenges of AI according to UNESCO

It's not only specialists like Bengio, Raskin, or Harris who are concerned about the issue of artificial intelligence. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)is also actively engaged in the debate on AI ethics in 2024 and will have a crucial role to play.

Like many other researchers, UNESCO believes that artificial intelligence has a significant role in promoting equity, diversity, and non-discrimination in society. That's why the organization has recently established a Global Forum on AI Ethics, bringing together decision-makers, industry leaders, researchers, and organizations from around the world to share their ideas and best practices in the field of artificial intelligence. This is a great example of international efforts aimed at creating an ethical governance framework for AI in the coming years!

The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence: The Grand Debate of 2024

The ethical and responsible approach to artificial intelligence will continue to gain importance in 2024. And more than ever, experts, activists, and decision-makers will have their say on the matter! However, it is crucial to broaden the discussion to include the entire society because the public and political debate on AI will become increasingly omnipresent in our daily lives.


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Stéphane Melançon
Data Scientist