Hanna Mergui is a student in the Master of Science and Technology in Artificial Intelligence and Visual Computing at Ecole Polytechnique. With Jérémy Barande, the photographer of the school, they launched a project to break stereotypes concerning AI.


Hanna - Tell us more about this project: what is it about and how did it start?

Ever since I started studying Artificial Intelligence, I’ve been hearing the same comments over and over:
▪ I don’t understand anything about AI!
▪ Is it not difficult to work in a "men’s" profession?
▪ Do you think AI will ever destroy us?
▪ AI doesn’t really work, it’s just a mix of statistics and luck
▪ I can’t study or work in this field, it’s too hard for me

The goal of this project is to demystify AI and make it more accessible. It is also a way to reassure people who are afraid of the great replacement of AI and to understand that this will allow us to relieve ourselves of certain tasks and help us maximize our profits!

Hanna – Why did you choose to deliver this message through pictures?

Photography is one of the best tools for capturing emotions and getting messages across. I think art can be a powerful tool for education, and I’m happy to use it to sensitize people about AI.
Also, I was not able to find pictures that really represents AI online as it is very rare to mix science and art!

Jérémy - What do you think of this initiative?

I think only good of it! The approach is original and allows me to highlight research and innovation through my media: photography, which I very much appreciated.
Working on this topic with students in AI was very exciting!

Jérémy - Did you have any preconceptions around AI? What did you learn about it?

I had fears, especially of being replaced by a machine in my job. I was asking myself: will one day a machine have the opportunity to do as well as I do my own job?
Talking to students helped me understand that AI is going to change our lives and our professions, but that it is not necessarily going to be negative, quite the opposite.

Hanna - What were the first reactions to the publication of these pictures?

The feedbacks are very positive. My classmates and surroundings complimented me a lot and I could see that everyone was very curious.

I also had many reactions on LinkedIn! My account exploded: I went from 60 views to 5,000 views per day… Freelance requests for different projects also exploded and it was quite sudden. I didn’t expect so many reactions.

My mother, who is not at all in this field, told me that she understands my professional life better thanks to these pictures. Which proves that this project is really successful!

Hanna - What advice would you give to all those people who are apprehensive about AI?

Don’t be afraid of AI. Find out what it really is, what it can do for you, and you will see that it is only an industrial revolution that will allow us to evolve as human beings. Learn more about the topic to take the current wave, you will be surprised!

Jérémy - Where can we follow this project?

Many pictures are coming. To follow the project, do not hesitate to follow us on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/117994717@N06/albums/72177720306772723

This album will be completed gradually to the tune of one theme per week.