Knowledge as a public good to be seized

Owners of spiders roaming the web like Google, Baidu, Apple, Meta, SalesForce and others are developing new ways to leverage the data we happily put there.

The data they accumulate has immense potential value and their use has significant effects on the organization and the social fabric. How will this development eventually integrate into society? ChatGPT is just one manifestation of the potential for social transformation that these innovations bring about.

Valuing the common good

The style

Artificial intelligences (AI) raise questions of principle around cultural appropriation. For example, artists find that their work serves as direct inspiration for algorithms (in the style of Van Gogh or Andy Warhol?) and they do not see how they will be able to continue to profit from their work if applications are in able to copy them systematically.

What is the difference between a person taking over the Maori or Haida style and an artificial intelligence doing the same thing? They can just as easily imitate a literary or cinematographic style. It will sooner or later be necessary to determine in what context a style can be imitated without its creators benefiting from it or having their say.

The story

It will not be long before an AI will be able to carry out philosophical, political, economic or other syntheses and from there determine which practices or which principles are the most effective and in which context. By linking principles and effects on a time scale and at a frequency of occurrence inaccessible to a human mind.

The knowledge developed by humanity can be considered a common good and it is not because an organization has the means to concentrate and analyze it that it ceases to be a common good. Of course, development, acquisition and operating costs exist in the services offered and must be covered, but the profits drawn from them must go in large part to those at the source of the data and their qualification.

When we talk about peoples, nations, cultural, scientific or natural heritage, we can always identify a source responsible for its creation, preservation, maintenance or transmission until today. Humanity and the planet being, for the moment, the ultimate link of attribution.


To win at Jeopardy in 2011, Watson had accumulated more than 200 million pages of content. He was not allowed to go on the Internet during the game, but he had above all developed an algorithm allowing him to estimate the probability that a conclusion drawn from the information available was correct. We are talking about a technology that is several years old already. Today’s algorithms are much more sophisticated.

To develop ChatGPT, Google had access not only to the content of the internet, including Wikipedia, but also to that of Google Scholar (academic and scientific publications) and to practically all the data at its disposal. If we ask the question of the source of its data to the AI ​​it answers in a sibylline way to only use data learned during its training, prior to 2022, while appreciating our comments to improve the algorithm in the future, but that the computer program itself is static.

Eventually the processing of new information will be done at a high frequency and not restricted as at present; then this kind of service will be the basis of any search for knowledge. Considering doing without it in learning activities would be like refusing to go to the library but also not using a calculator or going only on foot.

A person who only walks is probably in better shape than someone who uses a means of transport, a person who calculates with a pencil has better mental arithmetic skills than someone who can’t even add anymore, that a person who takes the time to read books develops their capacity for linear thinking more than someone connected to Instagram, but in any case we will see that the potential for action and achievements of people who use the tools to their disposal is higher than those who do not use them. The computer code debugging capabilities of ChatGPT or the translation capabilities of DeepL are just examples of the benefits of using such tools.

Social transformation and beacons

Obtaining answers to one’s questions without having to search, without delay and without verification necessarily has an impact on our way of thinking. We develop our ability to ask questions, verify, test and make connections on another scale and at another intensity. Where the notion of the common good takes on its importance is in access to knowledge. If these are private, filtered or censored, the common good is far from assured.

Determining what knowledge remains in the public domain becomes a function of social arbitration which, for the moment, generally remains the responsibility of companies and whose balance is ensured above all by criteria of profitability, social acceptability and sometimes of national laws.

The public good around knowledge goes beyond that of the rights to the content and extends to that of its accessibility and to the service itself. If Google or another information collector decides to charge for the request made or to display “contextualized” advertising to the request, the question of the public good will arise with all its acuity: individuals, ethnic groups, nations, humanity and the planet will claim their du.

Artwork: Harvest by Ring, LA – 1885
National Gallery of Denmark, Denmark – CC0.


École Branchée – Martine Rioux – Warning: The artificial intelligence that is changing education has arrived and you should take an interest in it todayé-hui/

Tech Republic – Jo Best – IBM Watson: The inside story of how the Jeopardy-winning supercomputer was born, and what it wants to do next next/


ChatGPT –

Deep Art Effect – – Geoffroy Ondet – 5 things to try with ChatGPT, the AI ​​that chats with you (almost) naturally


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Knowledge as a public good to be seized

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