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Florian Evéquoz

Florian Evéquoz is a man in a hurry, and for good reason! As a professor at the HES-SO Valais-Wallis, Head of the Business, Management and Services domain at the HES-SO and elected to the Constituent Assembly of the Canton of Valais, he wears many hats. But there is a common thread running through his career: a marked interest in Swiss politics and more particularly in participatory democracy. Behind a solid technical education, a doctorate in computer science from the University of Fribourg, he wishes to improve the transparency of the Swiss political system and encourage public participation. Thus, several of his projects are related to digital democracy and technical solutions to bring more clarity in the activities of parliamentarians and in the decision-making process. As head of the HUCO (Human-Centred Computing) research laboratory at the Computer Science Institute of the HES-SO Valais-Wallis, he also created the website quivotequoi.ch to allow the population to easily visualize the votes of the members of the Valais Constituent Assembly. Le Nouvelliste also worked with him to set up a similar tool to discover the votes of the Valais Grand Council.

Artificial intelligence affects all strata of society

"The goal of this project with Le Nouvelliste is to open the doors of parliament to the Valais population in order to improve the transparency of legislative work. After all, citizens should be able to follow the work of those who write the laws, and thus actively participate in the democratic debate", explains Florian Evéquoz. After each session of the Valais Grand Council, his tool analyzes the votes and allows the Nouvelliste to write an article deciphering the voting behavior on certain topics and thus animate the public debate. A research project in partnership with RTS is also underway to understand how digital technologies impact public opinion. The goal of the Recreating Shared Democratic Grounds project is to reduce polarization by identifying closed communities of interest and to highlight possible bridges with other communities in order to bring people out of their digital bubble and encourage the sharing of common fundamentals necessary for democracy to function properly.

Discovering how users interact with digital tools is essential to many fields, including medicine. For example, the Human-Centred Computing laboratory team is analyzing how artificial intelligence is changing the clinical practice of radiologists. How do they understand interaction with an AI?   What doesn't work and how can it be fixed? What should we watch out for when introducing AI into medical practice? With the help of Jakub Mlynar, a sociologist and senior researcher in the HUCO lab at the Computer Science Institute, these interactions between humans and "smart" machines are explored.

Democracy challenged by the digitalization of society

With the non-partisan movement Appel citoyen à la Constituante du Canton du Valais, Florian Evéquoz contributed to the implementation of digital tools allowing an innovative mode of election. Thus, an algorithm was used to determine the group of candidates who correspond to the profiles chosen by the electoral base while having received the most votes. A research project to disseminate this election method to the general public has obtained funding from Opendata and the Mercator Foundation. The Fairelection.ch platform can now be used by the public to organize elections according to this model. The platform will allow political or associative groups as well as companies to organize elections free of charge by choosing the representation criteria that suit them.

"Technophile but techno-prudent" is how Florian Evéquoz defines himself when he talks about his work in the fundamental rights commission of the Valais Constituent Assembly. It is always the idea of allowing a beneficial cohabitation between humans and machines that underlies the reflections of this researcher. He wishes to integrate into the Constitution the safeguards necessary to preserve our freedoms in a world where digital technology and robots are becoming increasingly important. He projects himself into the decades to come, asking himself what guarantees the legislation must offer to individuals to prevent certain risks. Thus, a fundamental right to interaction with a human being is introduced in the text to protect, for example, the residents of EMS whose care would be exclusively delivered by robots or the population which would be confronted only with an artificial intelligence when it addresses a service of the State. A right to digital integrity, or a right to communicate with the authorities without exclusively using a specific technology are also proposed by the Constituent. These new human rights aim to protect individual freedoms, the essential foundation on which the democratic balance of our societies rests.

More information: HUCO

Photo de Florian Evéquoz, Professeur à l'Institut Informatique de la HES-SO Valais-Wallis
Contact:
Professor UAS, Florian Evéquoz