First, a revolution in human thought

Because they generate knowledge, societies based on digital information and interconnectedness will become the fundamental imprint of the society that is being born. The Internet will be its nervous system (chapter 3, no. 1).

In the beginning, we were fearful of the digital world :

The transition to a digital society is enabling four distinct societal mutations :

Like all inventions, there is a bright side and a dark side. On one hand, these four technologies are the engine that will propel the changes to our current world : mobile devices, the cloud, big data and social networks.

And the next generation is already beginning to take root : 5G, quantum architecture and Visual Big Data.


Several specialists think that we are soon going to enter the third machine age:

On the other hand, anyone can use these technologies to mis-inform or spy on neighbors.

The three stages

The conception and actualization of digital society has experienced three historical stages. First its capabilities and effects were applied to businesses and shops (1950), and then to activities in the home and at school (2000). Soon it will be trivialized or ubiquitous – installed, accessible and used everywhere (2020) :

Each stage of evolution or era offers us a new generation of algorithms. The culture of production has henceforth been replaced by a culture based on these algorithms :

Algorithms are so widely used that they will in all likelihood require some form of regulation by the state :

We forget that the machines are not intelligent per se, rather it is the designers of electronic circuits and programmers who are intelligent. Moreover, the digital environment is born of the struggle between two groups of thinkers, one German and one British (see the Enigma episode below).

Its history is intertwined with that of artificial intelligence, the intersection between the material and the intellectual :

First example

The evolution of electronic devices (appliances) and computers (laptop, mobile, etc.) is easy to see.

But it is not as easy to distinguish between the evolution of thought derived from the overlapping of these digital tools.

An example is the conquest of space by children, which over time evolves towards identifying tangible spaces in which virtual worlds are tamed :

1- Lego bricks
the child, alone or in groups, builds imaginary dreams with bricks and very concrete figures.

2- Lego robot
children obtain a robot kit and assemble it (32-bit processor, sensors, actuators, batteries, software programming, communication via smartphone) and then learn to program changes in the unit in a material world.

3- Minecraft (acquired by Microsoft)
a game using 3D pixelated blocks that children can assemble at will in a virtual cube (resources : sand, clay, stone, tree, water and figurines), and with which some create abstract environments (five modes).

4- Bitcraft
the child obtains programming elements in the form of small physical cubes. These blocks can be connected together to schedule activities in abstract or concrete environments.

Another example is the KIBO game from KinderLab Robotics. It is offered in the form of wooden blocks, each carrying an icon (move, turn, jump, etc.) that a 4 to 7 year-old can line up on the floor. This is learned as a program (part of the movement that wants that children learn to read, write and program at the kindergarten). Each block is a sub-routine which can later be read by a robot which will then move around according to its programming :

Second example

Storytelling is one of the world’s oldest professions. For millennia, they populated the dreams of human beings by offering up all sorts of images generated from their imagination.

We can distinguish an evolution of thought : the camera obscura (1000) and the lantern (1659) through to the current iPhone (see below). It has been a long journey that, tool by tool, turned analog photographic images into digital images, offering greater creativity possibility at every step :

[expand title=”Landmarks”]

1878 The decomposition of movement via still images : the chronography of The galloping horse by Eadwear Muybridge.

1898 The first sequences of still images on celluloid film : the film The output of factories by the Lumière brothers.

1902 The rigging of early images and special effects : the movie Journey to the Moon by Georges Méliès.

1927 Expressionist film (in which the images are a visualization of sounds) with special effects : Metropolis by Fritz Lang.

1927 First sequences of pictures with sounds : the movie The Jazz Signer by Allan Crosland.

1928 The first commercially successful animated film : Mickey Mouse by Walt Disney.

1937 The first commercially successful animated feature film involving humans : Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Walt Disney.

1939 The debut of techni-colors : The Wizard of Oz by Victor Fleming.

1953 First film in CinemaScope : The Robe by Henry Koster.

1953 Development of the video coding standard : NTSC, appearance of public television and VCRs.

1968 60% of the budget of a film is devoted to special effects : Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick.

1969 Moving images seen instantly recorded on digital circuits : the DCT circuit by Akio Marita (SONY).

1982 First science fiction film shot with re-worked sequences on a computer, with smooth artificial rendering : Tron by Steven Lisberger.

1990 Continuous viewing on the Internet : Streaming.

1998 The movement captured by a handheld camera : the film The Celebration by Lars Von Triar.

2002 First virtual filmmaking shot with high-definition digital cameras : Attack of the Clones (Star Wars Episode II) by George Lucas.

2009 Film shot in relief with two high definition cameras (stereoscopic) : Avatar by James Cameron.

2009 Film shot with very small digital cameras (in hand) : Slumdog Millionaire by Danny Boyle.

(See the film Side by Side by Christopher Kenneally, Company Films. 2012).[/expand]


Algorithms in today’s context are mechanisms that govern everything that is connected, that is, all human activities using the Internet. They are methods of finding solutions to complex situations applied mechanically. Examples in the field of music: Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Deezer, etc.

They are filters that reason as humans do, and so are invisibly based on emotions.

One way to describe how to do something.
Gérard Berry.

By automating the operation of objects or activities, algorithms regulate entire areas of our lives, generating decisions that affect our lives. At each stage of their development, they modify the logic of intelligences and the architecture of information. To their use we owe the recent proliferation of applications and services. The best known is Google’s PageRank (invented by Larry Page in 1997) to rank Web pages by popularity.

The dark side of algorithms

  • Because they are secret, they impose an unknown logic on users. Users do not know on what basis they work or from what reasoning. Citizens therefore depend on something they can not understand !
  • In developing algorithms, programmers make no checks between their choice and the rights of citizens or the laws of the state. Because they become self-referential, programmers arrogate to themselves the right to arbitrate between truth and falsehood
  • During political campaigns, political parties use both personal databases and geolocation for profiling purposes
  • Currently, we are developing meta-algorithms to modify the existing algorithms (Deep learning II)
  • They are used to prioritize the most emotional news in order to retain the client longer and thus be more lucrative.

These are opinions embedded in numbers.
Cathy O’Neil, Weapons of Math Destruction.

[expand title=”Benchmarks of the evolution of algorithms”]

-300 First Algorithm (Euclid’s GCD)
-200 Babylonian Tax Calculations
820 Al-Khwârizim (latinized name in Algorithmi)
1214 Early memory support schemes (Bacon, Presme, Lulle, etc.)
1737 Automata (Vaucanson)
1785 Beginning of industrial schematization (Playfair) .
1801 Looms (Jacquard)
1832 Telegraphic code (Morse)
1942 Enigma episode (Alan Turing, Bletchley Park)
1960 Character code (ASCII)
1970 Graphical user interface (GUI, Xerox Park)
1978 Analysis Facial Expressions (FACS, Ekman)
1983 Transfers of Data Packets (TCP / IP, Arpanet)
1983 Word Processing (Word, Microsoft)
1984 Look and Feel Interface (Macintosh, Apple)
1987 Hypertext (Hypercard and HyperTalk, Apple)
1990 Web page exchanges (Tim Berners-Lee, CERN)
1991 Image Recognition (JPEG)
1994 Semantic Web (W3C)
1997 DeepBlue Supercomputer plays chess (IBM)
1998 PageRank (Larry Page, Google)
2000 Financial Algorithms
2000 Learning Algorithms (Deep learning)
2003 Battlefield Internet (Donald Rumsfeldt, adm. Bush)
2003 Content Publishing (CMS WorldPress)
2004 Mapping Service (Google Maps)
2007 Devices without keyboard (Steve Jobs)
2007 16-qubit quantum computer (D-Wave company, “Vancouver)
2011 Watson Program (Jeopardy, IBM)
2015 Game of Go (AlphaGo, DeepLearning)[/expand]

The first attempt at facial reference algorithms, in 1997, by Sederberg and Grenwood (U. Brigham Young):

Kurzweil’s prediction (the possibility of a singularity in the year 2029) will not be realized, probably because the human brain is more complex than it is imagined to be today. It is critical to take into account ALL of the human body, particularly when a human is using emotions and feelings that evolve according to space-time-information.

A new folder

Because the digital environment offers us both a technology and a culture, it is not easy to address (because it is currently a buzzword). For the media elites, this is the holy grail of modernity, while at the same time large swathes of the population are unaware of its impact on their daily lives. All this activity opens up a new age of thought :

Below, at each stage, the number of devices used is multiplied by ten (growth is logarithmic) (chapter 0, no 2) :

(Figures provided by the Morgan Stanley report on mobile and Internet dating 2012 & the KPCP Group, see the bibliography)

A review of the diagram indicates that the integration of devices grows according to two trends : aggregation in the industrial era and segmentation, beginning to be used in the knowledge-based society (chapter 3, no 10) :

During this same time, the explosion of content is made possible by a significant decrease in costs (KPCP Report) :

In the longer term

Because of the new horizontal information processing, this step will provide the public with smarter and more intuitive results :