Le témoignage de Nouredine Abboud (H.98)

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En avril 2020, HEC Stories a proposé aux alumni de partager leur expérience du confinement. Voici le témoignage envoyé par Nouredine.

I am an Executive Producer in the Video Game Industry. And I’m a geek. As Covid-19 is changing our lives, I am constantly surprised by how tricky it is for policy makers to make the best of Technology to address the new situation. This crisis is unheard of… but it also comes at a time when our technical options are stronger than ever. To handle the exponential growth of the epidemic and its consequences, we have exponential tools coming from technology and the Internet. To fight the virus, we now have viral online networks.As a video game producer, I’ve spent my life in a tech environment, from my first years of game coding in the 80s, a gig in the music industry in the 90s, and the advertising industry in the 00s, acquiring hands-on experience of technology and its impact. So I assume tech is always accounted for. This crisis has proven me wrong.In some countries, for deconfinement policies, the most heated debate was not about child safety or the precision of the algorithms predicting the disease spread… but about the digital tracking tools available. In this matter, the conversation quickly goes out of control, and in an era where most of us already share a lot of data online, all of a sudden it seems inappropriate for some to share a little bit to save lives.

In France, it has been separated from the rest of the deconfinement strategy, as it was too tricky for a public debate.As I was looking at my Linkedin history, I just noticed I had “liked” a #Vaccineswork hashtag in 2019. At least, vaccination seems cool again, right? But already we can hear some dangerous voices who, even before a vaccine is found, are debating its usage. With all the tech progress made over the years, is this still a debate?In business, many changes have already happened. Digitalization is going fast, with work-from-home proving effective. All sorts of services discover that they can operate remotely, be it yoga lessons or medical consultations. But this does not stop fear. Whereas businesses have always evolved (remember the low-cost revolution of the recent years: free-to-play games, rock- bottom gym memberships, travel…), today, the approach to the numerous opportunities at hand is not being done in a positive way, instead the approach is to recreate old usages. Not sure going to the restaurant with plexiglass cubicles will be much fun, ever.The list is endless. But there is hope.

For instance, in 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) added gaming disorder to its list of diseases… which sparked heated debate. Instead of understanding that any human activity can have downsides, the positive side of gaming was discarded. However, by the end of March 2020, video game companies relayed WHO messages to promote safe stay-at-home policies. Hopefully, the general debate will now shift in the right direction.That’s where our Geek responsibility kicks in. Game developers, and in general tech-savvy people, should do their best in the COVID -19 situation to help and promote a better understanding of all the technologies available. Tracking, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Networking, Digitalization… the list of tools is impressive and the world needs detailed explanations more than ever.What is awaiting us can go very bad. We must help as much as possible to understand, handle and leverage the technical opportunities at hand. If this does not happen, fear, aggressivity, poverty have the potential to increase more than ever. As a geek who loves post-apocalyptic fiction, I’d like this to stay fiction.So let’s help, explain, reassure, … and be a driving force in our society. That’s your Geek responsibility.