The Seven Deadly Sins That New Digital Minister Jean-Noel Barrot Should Not Commit

Jean-Noel Barrow, who arrived on July 4 with the cabinet reshuffle, has been appointed “Minister Plenipotentiary in charge of digital transformation and telecommunications.”

As far as can be said from the start, the new Minister of Digital has little experience in the digital field. We can note at most his proposal for a platform of citizen workshops that would have the role of “raising claims”, and using sentiment analyzers with Twitter to measure the well-being of regions.

So he will have to get acquainted with the existing files: resume control over Big Tech (Digital Services Act, Digital Markets Act), sovereignty (identity, health and data permits, cybersecurity), and protection of people (minors, harassment). Above all, it will have to define digital policy, in particular with regard to the “European metaverse” promised in the presidential programme. The options are wide open. It is the garden of all possibilities but also the garden of all temptations.

European Metaverse: Let’s be more ambitious, Mr. Macron!

The first temptation is to confuse breakthrough innovation with breakthrough technology. None of the 12 major tech companies, GAFA, BATX, and NATU, rely on advanced technology. However, this confusion is at the origin of the Innovation and Industry Fund, which received 10 billion, the results of which were unsurprisingly criticized by France’s strategy.

The second experiment is forgetting the purpose of innovation: to make progress for all. It was French Tech’s mistake, which fueled the Yellow Vests’ resentment, and the Villani Commission’s mistake in artificial intelligence, which brought them into conflict with human intelligence. The rationale for each initiative should be highlighted.

The third temptation is the desire to fight big tech companies for their monopolies. Monopolistic competition is the dominant new economic system, and it is rooted in computing. You have to get used to it. What must be fought is that many specialized monopolies are in the same hands.

The fourth temptation is to discredit intellectual property, based on open source, open data, or research in favor of global science. Meanwhile, GAFA harvests our data and China controls blockchain technologies with its own patents.

The fifth temptation is the desire to compete with the big tech companies with public initiatives. Thinking of a sovereign cryptocurrency, digital ID, cloud, or metaverse against the power of private innovation is meaningless. Instead, we need to think about public infrastructure that is open to innovation.

The sixth temptation is the desire to solve big problems with big solutions. This is the fault of the Davos Forum, which brings together the world’s economic elite and participates in campaigns “A world less divided, less polluted, less destructive, more inclusive, more equitable, more just.” However, the past 10 years have seen a growth in information manipulation, concentration of wealth, unfair competition, planned obsolescence, addiction marketing, and mass surveillance. To pollinate a field, no machine has been found more efficient than the labor of thousands of bees. Big problems can only be solved with many small solutions.

The seventh temptation is the desire to imitate the American model. It is understood that the formation of Silicon Valley, the power of venture capital, the control of startups by means of patents, and the unlimited buying power of big tech companies are enormously efficient. But it is an illusion to want to catch up with them on their own land. We should rather cultivate the European model oriented towards social and environmental responsibility, cooperation, shared ownership, collective governance, solidarity, culture and quality of life. Our values ​​are an essential competitive advantage. It suffices to be convinced of this to recall France the second industrial revolution. Although very late in techniques, it developed an additional spirit in uses, which then propelled it to the height of its prosperity and influence in the world. It brought fashion to mechanical fabric, cosmetics to fine chemicals, department store organization to mass distribution, automobile aesthetics, and photographic animation.

To avoid committing these seven deadly sins, Jean-Noel Barrow will have to develop an enabling environment – subsidies, regulatory relief and stability, intellectual property defense, labeling – for technologies and uses that contribute to the European model.

The blockchain allows, for example, to certify the origin of rice purchased in supermarkets, to validate information or certify the origin of each contribution to a collective project. Tokens measure additional financial accounts and ensure a fair distribution of price in their production chain. Smart contracts direct purchases based on seller ratings. Cryptocurrencies are lowering brokerage costs, making selling an image or solvent a small remote service, in favor of a disaster-stricken region. Virtual reality, thanks to its 3D digital twin, makes it possible to quickly learn how to repair an engine, visit a monument that has disappeared or simulate the aesthetics of the city after renovation. Augmented reality, which superimposes information about real objects into the glasses, helps manage breakdown at the factory and learning on the flight.

Today we need to renew our collective vision, better rooted in European values. The role of the Minister is to set the digital policy to stimulate this dynamic and raise the French wave and spread it in Europe.


Tribune signed it jointly with:

Vincent Laureville, entrepreneur, author and co-chair of the Institute of Economics

Christian Saint-Étienne, Professor Emeritus of the National Institute of Arts and Crafts, Co-President of the Institut Icons

Michel Foll, economist and co-chair of the Institute of Economics

Jean-Paul Petpies, Professor Emeritus at the University of Paris Pantheon Assas

Pascal de Lima, Chief Economist and Director of “Innovations and Jobs of Tomorrow” at Harwell Management, Professor at aivancity

Robin Ryvaton, Investor and Article Writer

Julian Boutrosloop, founder of Stake Capital

Stanislas Cobain, co-founder of Powder

Kevin Premiserio, co-founder of Pianity

Boris Kessler Fasano, founder of Mainbot

Clement Merville, founder of Teemew

Jordan Eatery, founder of Revomon

Noureddine Abboud, Managing Director of Novaquark

Clement Tekwe, co-founder of Capsule Corp Labs

Alexis Aragon, founder of Skinvaders

Diaa Al Yacoubi, General Manager of Monnier Frères

Benjamin Sharbet, Co-Founder of Darwes

Ashargin Poiré, President of What the Prod

Stéphane Galienni, founder of Balistik Art

Jeremy Lippetite, Co-Founder of Retreeb

Robin Ammar, co-founder of Pudding

Natalie Jansson, Economist and Instructor at Neoma Business School

Victor Low, artist

Stephanie Flasher And the Eli Overray, founders of Logion

Casey Joly, Lawyer at IPSO

Maryam Mohadebi, Founder of Valuecometrics

Jennifer Verney Dahan, founder of Vernsther

Emmanuel Francois, Founder of Smart Building Alliance

Raphaël Rossello, Partner at Invest Securities

Alain Garnier, co-founder of Gamespot

Philip Font, founder of Real Illusions