A new artificial intelligence network

This text is part of the special scientific booklet of the Francophonie

The Agence universitaire de la francophonie (AUF) chose the theme of artificial intelligence for the first part of the second International Conference on Scientific Francophonie, held in Cairo. This approach, which had to be open to society (and not technocentric), also allowed the creation of a new French-speaking network dedicated to AI to be realized through face-to-face meetings: REFIA.

“Artificial intelligence is now an interdisciplinary and even transdisciplinary tool that disciplines cannot escape from,” says Jean-François Lancelot, director of networks at the Agence universitaire de la francophonie (AUF). It was therefore important for the latter to be interested in the subject and for his institutions (teachers and researchers) in the South to contribute to it in order to reduce the digital divide (and more particularly that of AI) with the countries of the North.

A structured network

The French-speaking network in artificial intelligence (REFIA) is now part of the AUF networks. Its founding members (in particular the president Alain Kiyindou, of the University of Bordeaux Montaigne in France, and the Vice President Eric Armel Ndoumba, director of the African Center for Research in Artificial Intelligence in Congo) has appointed his first office. Subsequently, an Internet subscription platform will be launched.

This network brings together experts working in the field of artificial intelligence. They are not necessarily specialists, but people who want to use AI in different disciplines to innovate their research or accelerate it. “Joining this structured network allows you to benefit from all the combined skills and be more responsive and aggressive in terms of AI. When we need a specialist or use a tool, we can contact the network and interact very quickly ”, explains Jean-François Lancelot.

Stimulated universities

Magda Fusaro, rector of UQAM, participated in the Assizes. You gave a lecture on the place of AI in the university’s health mission. “If there is an area in which artificial intelligence can be a source of positive elements, it is certainly this”, says the one for whom the role of universities is in particular to explain to citizens what it will do. . “The rise of AI has accelerated in recent years. We need to put it into perspective and delve into the problems (of cost, accessibility and ethics, for example) it creates, “she says.

The rector of the UQAM is curious to observe how AI teaching will evolve at the university. “It can become a new discipline over the years, like communication [qui a émergé] from the second world war. Or perhaps it will grow while remaining an application for various established fields, such as mathematics, computer science, law or anthropology, “he says. In any case, the challenge for universities is to propose new training to support developments. REFIA can provide them with support. stimulating. “After this first constitutive meeting, we will see how the collaborations between researchers, centers and institutions will take place”, adds the rector.

Improve discoverability

Destiny Tchéhouali, professor at UQAM and co-holder of the UNESCO Chair in Communication and Technologies for Development, participated in a workshop on emerging research and the challenges of discovery. “Our work has highlighted the fact that we have a problem promoting French language content,” she explains. In the latest statistics relating to the measurement of linguistic diversity in the digital environment on the web, the French language is in fourth place. But just 2.7% of the content of the 10 million most visited websites in the world is in French (7And rank).

“We can increase the discoverability of French-language content by acting on technological levers, in particular using artificial intelligence, in particular algorithms. These invisible intermediaries now play the enhancement role that was traditionally played by record stores or bookstores, ”says Destiny Tchéhouali, who particularly highlights the shortcomings in the visibility of French-language publications and research articles. The role of researchers is “to provide benchmarks for public decision-making, to effectively regulate these systems,” she stresses.

This special content was produced by the special publications team of Must, related to marketing. The editorial staff of Must did not take part.

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