Some 8000 participants in the Alliance VITA Bioethics Conference gathered in 190 towns throughout France and abroad on 30th January for the fourth instruction session titled “A future to weave”.
The digital revolution has considerably modified the relationship between man and time and space, enabling him indeed to abolish physical distances but whilst subjecting himself to an ever faster rhythm of life. Beyond such upheavals, there are some realities which remain and will continue to remain profoundly human: in reality everything is linked and we are all connected to one another, the consent to reality and the human links constitute a treasure to be promoted for the future we weave.
After the introduction by Tugdual Derville, the co-initiator of the current debate on human ecology, regarding the position of man today in nature and the fact that ecology is always human since it is carried by mankind, Professor René Ecochard opened the session. A research doctor, epidemiologist, Professor Emeritus at University Claude Bernard in Lyon, author of several books on human ecology, he spoke of the link between the human and environmental dimensions of ecology and declared generational difference and sexual difference as the pillars of human ecology. According to him, integral ecology constitutes an awareness that everything is interlinked. He also recalled the reality of man, a being incarnate, unified, body-soul-spirit to be considered as a whole.
Next Jeanne Bertin-Hugault, a psychologist in charge of the Alliance VITA SOS Bébé help line invited the participants to think about how to consent to reality. In a situation of bereavement, one must first consent to the loss in the knowledge that the attachment links woven at the start of life modulate the way in which we adapt. Bereavement being a wound to attachment, “the gravity of the bereavement is dependent on the degree of attachment with the person.” The consent is not merely passive. In order to consent to the reality one must receive it through a double motion of acceptance and decision. Finally Jeanne suggested three concrete themes for consenting to a “reality sometimes constraining and frustrating, which does not really correspond to our plans and projects”: first name the reality to better understand it, then let go, and finally, accept the reality of here and now.
The co-founder of Wanadoo and ex-manager of a start-up acquired by Apple, Philippe Dewost, then questioned the place of digital technology in the future we weave. For the author of In Living Memory – A History of the Digital Adventure, even if the promise of metaverse is as yet imperfect, we will not be able to do without digital technology to face up to the current challenges. “From its earliest beginnings, digital technology has met the expectations of every one of us to be able to create or maintain links while abolishing the constraints of distance, time and cost.” But Philippe Dewost also stressed that “Mankind will always remain more efficient than artificial intelligence in its abilities for large scale inspiration and for ensuring a simple presence to accompany the most vulnerable.”
Finally, the session was concluded by Bertrand Vergely, a philosopher, and his reflections on thinking for tomorrow. In 2018 he wrote The Destruction of Reality – Has the Programmed End of Humanity Already Begun?, he pointed at the disappearance of reality by substitution: “we substitute reality with artificial reality” and added that “the characteristic of our time is to refer everything to the individual and our ability to call real what we declare and what we want.” However, the individualism which pervades our society “transcends the four limits which protect us: the difference between man and machine, man and animal, man and woman, virtual and real.” Nevertheless, the testimony by the philosopher inspires hope, considering that “there will always be unexpected, unforeseen and beneficial events, which occur in reality.”
This ended the Bioethics Conference, with its wealth of learning and testimonies for “Living in the real world”. The lectures will very soon be made available on the Alliance VITA YouTube page.