The town hall, which banned ChatGPT, launches a citizens’ convention on artificial intelligence

No, Montpellier (Hérault) is not resistant to artificial intelligence (AI). This was, without a doubt, the message that the services of the city and the metropolis wished to convey, this Friday, by bringing together, on the occasion of a press conference, the cream of researchers and innovative entrepreneurs from the neighborhood. Because some may have thought: in March, the community, as a precaution, purely and simply prohibited the use of ChatGPT to its agents and suppliers. It was, at the time, one of the first major cities to ban this new kind of AI. “We don’t have enough perspective on this disturbing robot, capable of generating texts, images and videos in one click”, explained, at the time, Manu Reynaud (EELV), the elected official in charge of digital.

A strong decision, taken “as a precaution”, while waiting for us to get to know this new tool better. Two months after this announcement which had swept like a bomb on the Internet, the elected representative assures him: no, the city and the metropolis are not anti-AI. Neither does he, for that matter. “I’m not going to tell you that! he smiles, waving his arms to show all the connected objects he walks around with. By banning ChatGPT, “we just complied with the law,” he says, pointing out that this revolutionary tool could well be a data privacy nightmare. “This is what many companies around the world have done,” continues Manu Reynaud. When a device is likely to use confidential data… That’s normal. It’s a simple precautionary principle. »

“I believe that AI deserves a national citizen debate”

But the city and the metropolis of Montpellier, which advocates “a trustworthy artificial intelligence” have every intention of contributing, on their own scale, to clearing the field of AI. Michaël Delafosse (PS), the mayor and the president of the metropolis, announced this Friday that a citizens’ convention was going to be set up, probably at the start of the next school year, so that inhabitants, scientists and entrepreneurs discuss the benefits , but also the dangers of using these generative AIs.

“See how social networks today destabilize our democratic communities,” laments Michaël Delafosse. We didn’t necessarily question ourselves before, they invaded us, and today, we are trying to regulate them. I believe that AI deserves a national citizen debate. We are going to launch a local citizens’ convention on this theme. »

Small training courses will also be launched in schools and universities. And within a year, a forum should also be held in Montpellier on this topic. Finally, the city, the metropolis and the university are working on the creation of a local AI, in open source, thanks to a very powerful supercomputer, for agents and researchers. And even for entrepreneurs. “They won’t need to go to Microsoft, Amazon or Meta to use these services,” explains Manu Reynaud. A more respectable AI, because it will be warm “here”, in Montpellier, and it will be managed by an ethics committee. “These initiatives are unique. Have you ever seen a politician take up these questions? “In Montpellier, yes, welcomes the elected ecologist. And that’s all.

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