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Bravo Francois Guinot – About l’Academie des Technologies April 18, 2007

Posted by The Writers in Technology.

In a recent paper called ‘La Culture du Doute’ in the Nouvel Economiste (no 1383), one learn the creation of an Academy of Technology.
First, let us approve Francois Guinot, its director, and the policy he is decided to apply.
One must recognise great qualities to this man as he is working on establishing a institution serving the dissemination of technological information within France. Of course, one may be sceptical when one knows technology, that institution alone cannot be a successful vector of diffusion.

Mr Guinot recognises the institutional limitations in the first place. In Michel Crozier words, he is working with an institution with a modern and therefore modest outlook.

To formulate the challenge Mr Guinot is facing in the French context, one has to understand that he is working at several institutional levels at once.

Mr Guinot challenges is double, he has to close down the gap with our institution and the role of technology, its recognition within the French society. In this sense, and to use Karl Popper, expression, he is working at a meta-level with this institution trying to make the French society passing from a closed society to an open society.

Mr Guinot has also a acute sense of this challenge vis-a-vis the intellectual establishment when he says that the French Academy of Technology will not be established on disciplines but will elaborate committees dedicated to produce input and reflections on the technological issues of the moment.

It seems that Mr Guinot is simply directing an institution made to function! An institution that is serving a purpose rather than serving its own justification for existing. He adds: ‘the risk of such institution is to be in complete discrepancy with the economical and social realities of the country.’ The paper continues saying there is a concern not to fall into the bermuda triangle of the State and knowledge Parisian Elite taking place between the V arrondissement of the state ministries, the Ve of the intellectuals and the Seine river and its ‘Pont des Arts’. Indeed, remaining within this imbred controlling circles of luminaries cannot fit the bill when it comes to deal with world-wide movement of innovation.

The other level of Mr Guinot action is given by the French institutional context. The president of this institution gives himself the objective to act at the regional level and contact the cities of the country. It seems common-sense is taken as the best council again when it comes to everyday life.

I will, to conclude, share another (certainly complementary) concern. Technology itself is dictating its own rules. In the actual rythm of innovation, technology is an embedded part of the existing context of global economical exchanges. Today’s technology are working on the model of open innovation, which time scale goes beyond the rythm of any political institution (which has to report to popular instances) making information about technology and its development, an absolute necessity. In technological time, 5 years is already medieval past. And to understand this, one does not only need the education of technologists (which we have and certainly need to restructure in regard of the large potential that a country like France can unleash) but we also need a change of culture, whereby one is able to deal in the social sciences and in the larger public with issues dealing with our times, bringing a more refine understanding of the change and its constitutive elements, its implications in the fabric of society.


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