Jean-Christophe Bonis. The emotional connection of a person with artificial intelligence is inevitable

/ The Interview /

Artificial intelligence, biotechnology, robotics, nanotechnology — Jean-Christophe Bonys is ready to answer any questions related to innovation. In order not to list all the titles of "the most influential Frenchman on the planet in the field of artificial intelligence", Jean-Christophe is often presented as a futurist.

A popular lecturer and TED speaker, he travels around the world for research and educational purposes — Jean-Christophe acts as a mentor and consultant for startup founders and is himself ready to invest in ideas he considers breakthrough, adhering to the principle of tech for good. 

The topic of the PRAGMATIKA.MEDIA interview, which took place in the Kyiv showroom Davis Casa, of course, became the metauniverse and its prospects.

PRAGMATIKA.MEDIA: In your interviews even before the pandemic, you talked about the fact that virtual reality is one of the main risks for humanity: "You can lose yourself and your real reality." On the other hand, you spoke complimentary about Zuckerberg. What do you say today about the concept of a global metauniverse and the ambitions of Mark Zuckerberg, who is developing his Meta? 

Jean-Christophe Bonis: Do you, of course, remember Steven Spielberg's film "First Player Get Ready" about a game that people play inside the digital world? Today we are all at the point of entry into exactly the same situation. For now, virtual reality is just a tool, but tomorrow it will be a global virtual universe, as diverse and complex as our real life. 

Jean-Christophe Bonis. Photo: Maksym Drobynenko

At the moment, everything that concerns the metauniverse sounds very conceptual. It is difficult for ordinary people to mentally reorganize and start buying real estate in the virtual world. But already in the digital world we will connect everything with each other: things, processes, people. 

Metaversion of the new world: from interactivity to virtuality

We will start creating new services, new products in parallel both in reality and in virtuality - working in two worlds. A couple of years ago, Second Life was a very popular game. By visiting the site, you had the opportunity to live an alternative life, the one you dream of.

(Second Life is a virtual world in which users do not compete for ratings in the game, but live life in the format they like - build new territories, engage in art, communicate by interests - approx. ed.)

The concept of a metauniverse in itself is a good idea, because we have a new world to explore. But the threat of privatization of this idea really exists. The metauniverse that we are building should not belong to one large corporation. 

We can see millions of people cutting themselves off from reality, completely immersed in a beautiful digital world, while their real life becomes more and more complicated

I actually said in one of the interviews that Mark Zuckerberg is doing a good job helping people communicate with each other on Facebook and Instagram, but I'm categorically against the idea of ​​belonging to one metauniverse company. Another problem is that the real state of affairs on the planet is not so good. And people painfully react to the situation. 

Most of the inhabitants of the Earth are dissatisfied with their current life. What will happen if tomorrow you can create a full-fledged life in an alternative digital world according to the scenario that you choose yourself? We can see millions of people cutting themselves off from reality, completely immersed in a beautiful digital world, while their real life becomes more and more complicated.

PM: Is there a point of no return for our immersion in virtual reality? Can the real world slow down the development of an alternative one? 

Zh.-K. B.: No, and in this matter we must be pragmatic. It is impossible to stop the evolution of innovations. But we can and must control the process. We need global international legislation that will protect the interests of ordinary citizens like us. Legislation that will protect our personal information and clearly define the boundaries of what is permitted. 

Jean-Christophe Bonys and Anastasia Beletskaya, creative director of MAЇNO Design Ukraine. Photo: Maksym Drobynenko

And I believe that the huge responsibility for the direction in which the parallel reality will develop lies with us - intellectuals, influencers. We must try to teach people to safely use the possibilities of the metauniverse. This is roughly the same as how we teach our children not to post something overly personal or revealing on Instagram — something that can be used for harm. 

PM: In 2021, the metauniverse began to be actively monetized, to the point that companies appeared that trade real estate in virtuality. Have you not yet purchased a plot of land somewhere in Decentraland? 

Zh.-K. B.: I haven't bought anything in the digital world for one simple reason: I don't see the value in it at the moment. I'm not someone who gets carried away by speculations on cryptocurrencies or, as we still call them, DeFi (decentralized finance). 

I come from a time when everything was real and physically tangible - a tree was made of wood and so on. And to consider the value in virtual artifacts of the metauniverse is quite a difficult task for us. And in order to strive to own something, it is necessary that this something represents a logical and natural value for you. 

Photo: Maksym Drobynenko

PM: But why then did people rush to buy digital art objects for millions of dollars? 

Zh.-K. B.: They are driven by the belief that what is bought today for a million will cost ten tomorrow. It's like a casino game. For me, speculation is neither interesting nor valuable. But remember the story with Banksy's drawing, which was destroyed right during the auction - the art object was supposed to turn into a concept, something intangible, but at the same time its value only increased. 

Photo: Maksym Drobynenko

Today, when you buy NFT, you can pay directly to the artist, the author of this work, and this reduces the distance between you. But, on the other hand, new technology does not solve the problem of theft of art objects, but creates new opportunities for conflict. For example, if I took a photo, and someone digitized it and turned it into an NFT token, then who owns the copyright to this piece of art? To me or to him?

PM: It is more or less clear how the metauniverse can entertain us, but is its development capable of helping to solve any global human or environmental problems? 

Zh.-K. B.: The digital world is, first of all, innovation. And like any innovation, it opens up many new perspectives for us. Since the main quality of the metauniverse is the ability to create new relationships and collaborations, it certainly opens up new perspectives for health care, well-being, improving the quality of life, the environment, energy, science, and so on. 

People are driven by the belief that what was bought today for a million will cost ten tomorrow. It's like a casino game

PM: One of the global challenges facing our civilization is the problem of loneliness. Can the development of the metauniverse somehow solve it? 

Zh.-K. B.: While I lived in Japan, South Korea, or recently in Catalonia, I watched the growing popularity of sites where artificial intelligence — a digital assistant — helps people arrange their sexual lives. In Barcelona, ​​similar services are already being provided everywhere. I don't rate it as bad or good. The fact itself means that there is an opportunity to close some of the needs of society with the help of artificial intelligence. 

Photo: Maksym Drobynenko

When one of your loved ones reaches an advanced age, what is a more correct decision is to place him in a nursing home or resort to the help of smart technologies, when a digital assistant can monitor the daily routine of a lonely person, monitor his health and, if necessary, instantly connect the ego with doctors and relatives? 

Perhaps the manifestation of love is an opportunity with the help of technology and artificial intelligence to allow all people to maintain their independence. In 10 years, tools of this kind (smart things and robot assistants) will become a daily routine in our homes. And these tools, these digital neural networks will interact with people — they will talk and listen to them. 

Manifestation of love is an opportunity with the help of technology and artificial intelligence to allow all people to maintain their independence

Inevitably, just as people develop an emotional bond with their pets—a crazy cat or a stupid dog—they will sooner or later develop an emotional bond with artificial intelligence. And this is also a way to resist loneliness. It will be for good or for bad - it is still impossible to predict. 

PM: We in our editorial office are discussing whether to open an office for us in one of the virtual worlds, somewhere on the Minecraft game platform? What do you recommend? 

Zh.-K. B.: In my opinion, placing the magazine in Minecraft is hardly a good idea. But the presence of mass media on some gaming platforms is indeed expedient. As soon as you cooperate with a publisher and place your publication in the game, you automatically increase your audience by hundreds of thousands of new subscribers. This does not mean that all players will read the magazine, but the principle of presence is important here. Presence is a typical goal of everyone who places their products and brands in the metaverse.


* In February 2022, Jean-Christophe Bonys and neurophilosopher Olga Duda will hold a master class for business leaders, top managers and community leaders as part of the workshop "Neurosystem of the owner - a tool for modeling the future company".

The organizers of the event were: neurophilosopher Olga Duda (Open Circle: University of generations), creative director of MAЇNO Design Ukraine Anastasiya Beletskaya, Olga But (Skills. Educational Company). 


Interviewed Irina Isachenko