Centre interdisciplinaire sur les enjeux stratégiques (CIENS)

Year 2023-2024 > Semester 2

AI, information and democracy

Year 2023-2024 / Second Semester
École normale supérieure (Ulm)

Teacher : Maïlys Mangin
Contact : mailys[dot]mangin[at]ens.psl.eu

Validation : 3 ECTS
Schedule: Tuesdays, 18h – 20h starting February 13.
Room: Salle Beckett, 45 rue d’Ulm
Public: open to all ENS-PSL students

Registration here: Form (to be completed once per course. If you wish to register for two different CIENS courses, please fill in the form twice)

Seminar presentation

The digitization of public debate over the last few decades has considerably altered the way we produce and consume information, the forms of political communication and hence the rules of political competition as a whole. In particular, the widespread use of social networks has facilitated the wide and immediate dissemination of information. It has also made it more vulnerable to manipulation and to the circulation of “alternative facts” or “post-truths”, with major social, electoral and international consequences.

The rapid development of generative AIs such as ChatGPT, Bard and Llama seems to promise a new revolution in our relationship to news information, the structuring of public debate and decision-making. AIs are already changing journalistic practices, the information economy and the strategies of political players at home and abroad. They are also set to transform state practices in computerized influence peddling, as well as the contours of possible military maneuvers in the media space, notably aimed at “social media” during conflicts or external operations.

What is the impact of AI on our political systems on a national and international scale? What is “fake news” in the age of ChatGPT, how does it spread, and with what risks for democracy? What are the effects of AI on information in election campaigns or interstate conflicts? Have we entered a new era of “informational warfare”? What are its forms and implications? What roles do journalists, corporations and government agencies play in managing these challenges?

Evaluation methods

Each session will be structured around a speaker, researcher or practitioner, and several compulsory readings, in English or French. The seminar will be conducted in French.

Assessment will take into account attendance at sessions, oral participation during the seminar and a final test involving the writing of a mini-research paper on a topic of the student’s choice related to the seminar.

Format: between 15,000 and 22,000 characters including spaces — excluding bibliography (between 7 and 10 pages).

Deadline: April 30, 11:00 p.m. at the latest.

Session description

Session 1 – February 13. Speaker: Sylvain Parasie, professor of sociology at Sciences Po and director of Médialab.
“The media and the political exploitation of a news item. A computational study of media corpora”.

Session 2 – February 27. Speaker: Paola Tubaro, CNRS research director. Researcher at the Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique (CREST), Institut Polytechnique de Paris.
“Problematizing disinformation: AI, networks, and digital industries”.

Session 3 – March 13. Speaker: Chine Labbé, editor-in-chief and vice-president in charge of partnerships Europe and Canada for NewsGuard, an American anti-disinformation company.
“AI and disinformation: an industrial revolution?”

Session 4 – Tuesday March 19 (6-8pm). Guillaume Acca, Head of Foresight and Studies at COMCYBER, and Yolaine Cathelineau, doctoral researcher at COMCYBER and doctoral student at the Institut Français de Géopolitique within the IFG/Lab/geode laboratory (and whose thesis focuses on “representations of the informational threat and its stakes for French cyberdefense”).

Session 5 – Wednesday March 27 (6-8pm). Claire Benoit, Head of the “coordination and strategy” unit, VIGINUM (coordination and strategy unit). “The fight against foreign digital interference in the media.”

Session 6 – Tuesday, April 2 (6-8pm). Fabienne Greffet, professor of political science at IAE Nancy School of Management, Université de Lorraine, IRENEE laboratory. “Digital spaces and electoral campaigns”.

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