That little voice in my head…

Standard is about building consensus, in long meetings. Spending few days of meeting, keeping concentrated on governance aspects, even with the most friendly folks is not always easy. To survive and share with the group good ideas and insights, I am working as a team with my little voice. And here are the things this little voice reminds me when things are getting boring, crazy, unexpected, too warm… Well, here are some crisis hints for marathon meetings.

Virginie, do not to get nervous when you suspect bad faith around, do not to get nervous…

Hey, honey. Make your points, one by one, taking time (you deserve the time you use).

I authorize you multi-tasking, when you can afford, it also releases tension when the conversation is getting warm or turning in circle and there is nothing you can do about it…

Relax. Listen with no intention at all to answer, you will make your point tomorrow.

Ask this simple question, go, ask it ! Go! Raise hands !

Rule number one. Express your perspectives, your general goal, to allow other to understand where you wanna go (I came in peace) …

Pffff. Don’t know what to say ? Try ‘That is an interesting feedback’…

Virginie ? Did you read the fucking manual (aka, the material supporting discussion, mail, communication related to it, controversial content, …)

Come on ! You will not win that decision in one shot, take your time, this meeting is not the only one.

Be polite. Thank you, mister or miss, for supporting my ideas.

Pssst, state the problems, even if you dont have the solution, some one else may…

Thanks to that voice, so helpful not to loose myself. It deserved a blog post…

Friendship Incorporated


How did my friends amazed me again ? In one week, a single week. And what to learn from that…

But first. The story. I had to move in a new flat, quite quickly. I had low possibility to reuse my old furnitures. That move was sudden enough that I did not manage to make saving to pay new fridge, shelves, new every basic things that should go into a flat. I contacted my best friends, the closer circle and some broader, mentioning. “Dear friends, I have to move somewhere and I have nothing. What could I get from you, that you would be ready to give me, for free. Having in mind that I don’t want you to miss to make money with second hands market, and that I don’t want you to miss anything, once that thing will be gone.” I mentionned clearly that I would not have money to balance that donation, but would definitely have open bar sessions to the ones giving a hand (and the others trying to). And the miracle was. In less then a week, I got from those friends enough furnitures, washing machine, beds, sofa, sheet and dishes to start living in my new flat. In addition, I got from those friends help for repairing, painting and washing that new home.

So. The lessons. One could think that alcool is ruling the world, as I offered open bar in my new home and got so much success. Another one might see that me and my friends have invented a super cool startup that is disrupting Ikea and second hand furniture market. But I believe that something else happened. Few things I feel important to notice :

  • Demonstration of solidarity was made. In my thank-you email, I listed around 20 people in my close circle that helped or gave. This includes only friends. Yes, they had in common a profile of quadra, middle class, familly built, they could afford to do so. But still. Their answer was generous …
  • We are really diving in a surplus society, an affluent society. Each of us has definitely much more then what he needs. This is why I got so much things from  attic, basements. Of course, I did not filter, I took everything, without imposing any criteria.
  •  I am living now with basic things in my flat. Few furnitures, a table, some chairs, coffee cups and wine glasses for my friends visiting me, some vintage dishes, internet connection and my books. That is leading to a great satisfaction, I realize now how material things have overloaded my life those last years.
  • Hey ! All happened with no need of an app. This happened in my close circle, in real life, eyes in eyes, smiling and having great live discussions. I could have gone through donation nice application, I could have used my circle of virtual friends on social network. But I realised that the wealth was also in my real life proximity friends.

Of course, this is the beginning of something, we might discuss that again in one year and see if this “light life” is still suitable for me and my familly. But I got from that situation some great quality life improvement; being able to focus on what matters. And this is another reason to thank my friends, and whisper here to them “I love you”.

Note : That new situation is also triggering some questions on the way I use my time and how my digital life in progressing, some more thoughts to share soon…

Middle Life Crisis Toolbox : about resilience


Some of the things I have looked at those days is resilience. How can you survive bad moments, build again, start from scratch, after an incident that is affecting you (whatever its cause). Again, just like for bad emotion, or anger, here are some articles I identified as bringing some pieces of answers. Those are not *the* answer, but an opportunity to deal with notions and play with it.

For the ones looking for the ideal and theoritical conditions for resilience. Here is a good way to start : some short lists with 5 entries or 10 entries (for the bravest ones). This is an opportunity to catch what resilience means, and why it could matter. Sounds like a magic recipe. Each of us could identify what item corresponds to his natural tilt and what item is missing and may potentially be considered.

For the ones who needs to silence their constant self-criticism, in order to find peace and listen to themseves. Here is an interesting blog on how we sometimes kill ourselves by being to harsh on ourselves. To tease you, here is an extract :  “We know virtually nothing about ourselves because we judge ourselves before we have a chance to see ourselves (as though in panic).” Hum, hum ?

For the ones locked by conflicts and emotion, and who wants to get rid of that. I liked that blog post about managing your emotion. The most interesting point of that story is this notion of “a story hurts you, because it clashes with a story sensitive to you”. So let’s find our sensitive stories. In addition, I found crucial this idea of victim and villain caracter that we ususally allocate in conflict (guess who is the victim ?). The author suggests to make a shift in that, and try to ignore those roles (easy to say, I admit, but why not trying…).

For the ones, fan of analogy with working conditions, and believing that not to fall is the key. It is actually to recover which maters the most. This is what is explained in this Harvard Business Review blog, about work. It suggests to have real breaks. So could we in our personnal lives. Resilience Is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure

And for everyone, think about that a second…


Machine Learning pour les simples humains…


Début Décembre, Nicolas Courtier m’a invitée à présenter devant un parterre d’avocat-e-s et de juristes plus ou moins averti-e-s les bases de l’intelligence artificielle. Ce colloque “Droit et Numérique” avait pour vocation plus large de faire état de la loi et des questionnements sur les disruptions technologiques telles que smart city, big data, machine learning et blockchain. Je ne peux que vous encourage à aller consulter le storify issu de cette journée riche en partage de compétence ou encore de parcourir mon court article sur quelques unes des questions évoquées (in english). Mais je partage également avec vous, cher lecteur assidu, la session que j’ai animée.

Machine learning, kézako. Le machine learning est un sous-catégorie de l’intelligence artificielle, ce qui ne rend pas le sujet moins intéressant. Cette discipline consiste à prédire le comportement d’un système, d’un humain, à partir d’un modèle – plus ou moins précis. Il s’agit donc de s’appuyer sur le passé pour prédire le futur. Oui, enterrons tout de suite notre fantasme d’une machine apprenante, en auto gestion, et qui règlerait les peines du monde à notre place. Parceque le machine learnign se nourrit du passé, précisément, le machine learning nécessite d’avoir une très grande quantité de données, de très bonne qualité. Et oui, le machine learning exige la quantité *et* la qualité. Pour en finir avec les grands principes, afin de déployer une solution à base de machine learning, il vous faut donc, du logiciel qui décrira le modèle de votre système, des data et un data scientist qui affinera le modèle.

Les promesses du machine learning. Elles sont de différents ordres, selon les cas d’usage, mais on peut songer à dupliquer la compétence humaine (comprendre, dupliquer un expert qui a fait de longues études, comme un médecin, un avocat, un travailleur dont la valeur repose sur la connaissance factuelle), on peut également songer à faire mieux que l’humain (en allant chercher des corrélations entre des événements auxquelles le cerveau humain n’aurait pas songé). Dans le domaine des services, c’est la même chose, le machine learning peut améliorer un service (par exemple une recherche par mot clé, ou une recommandation de produits dans un catalogue) ou encore en créer de nouveaux (une gestion intelligente des trolls sur Twitter par exemple).

Les applications gourmandes de machine learning. Potentiellement toutes. Mais les premiers acheteurs de la technologie sont le marketing (la prospection, le contenu sur mesure, le service après vente, le chat automatique…), les services de recommendation/search/match, le monde de la sécurité (pour la prédictions des risques, des fraudes). Tous les espoirs et fantasmes sont permis sur les domaines de la santé (la quêtes de l’immortalité et des diagnostics, meilleurs et au bon moment) et les voitures intelligentes …

Le machine learning, une science qui s’invente. Comme toutes les autres disciplines qui émergent et sont projetées dans notre monde, le machine learning est soumis aux courants hype tels que l’open source, le crowdfunding, le cloud, la création de communauté… La multiplication des initiatives autours du machine learning pour le rendre plus efficace, plus lisible, plus accessible, sont autant d’opportunité d’enrichir cette science.

Bref. Le machine learning est une technologie nouvellement sous les spots de l’actualité, comme blockchain, big data l’ont été ces derniers mois. C’est également une nouvelle opportunité d’agiter les modèles qui décrivent et conduisent notre monde. C’est l’introduction d’un usage encore plus intensif de la données, la fameuse richesse de notre siècle, et c’est également l’acceptation de plus de prédictif, d’à peu près, dans un monde complexe. Une tendance et des usages à observer de près donc…

Et les slides ? Machine learning pour les simples humains, version slide, c’est par ici. Enjoy !

Law and digital disruptions, examples of machine learning and smart city


As part of the amazing opportunities I get with my job, I have been invited to a one-day workshop, organized by the AFDIT, the french association of lawyers, specialized in IT and computing systems  (part of the International Federation of Computer Law Association IFCLA). This day aimed to have lawyers discussing the impact of technology on the laws, in public area or business area. The perimeter of the discussion was europe and US, thus some speakers from all around the world came and shared their experience. In order to educate and progress on major 2016 topics, the organizers, Nicolas Courtier and Yves Léon, selected the themes of the day as : smart cities, artificial intelligence and blockchain. Here are some interesting elements that were raised all along the day.

Smart city, what does it means ? We all heard about smart city : it is the promise to improve town management, population mobility, citizen service offer, by connecting all possible pieces of information and building some tailor-made services. That is the vision that some local politicians promoted during the day (Caroline Pozmentier, Stéphane Paoli), together with some French Tech actors. The other way to see it, explained by Art Langer from Columbia University is to position citizen in the middle of the town dynamic. By offering him or her better mobility, frictionless social relation, great work opportunities, better democracy, (which is great news for the humans). That vision suggests a potential coming race, among towns, to become the most attractive town in the world, in order to maintain growth in economics and population. All those improved services will be based on large data collection operations, or interconnection of databases. In order to do so, service providers may be required to have private and public actors collaborating, canvassing the city, the citizen and grab appropriate information. And then came the question of the privacy, which might be one of the most challenging questions in that model where the consumer is a citizen.

Big data privacy challenge in smart city. The relevance of the smart city services are relying on the consolidation of a set of data, for which confidentiality and anonymity are hard to garantee. In addition, this mixing of data set triggers the question of ownership and liability. Who would be owning the data and would be responsible for the the failure of data maintenance ? That question would any way have to be answered with the coming european regulation on privacy. As Massimo Attoresi from explained, this regulation mandates that all actors of a service handling data (collecting, processing, storing or destroying) have to take care of the data, by having clear process for user opt-in, transparency in usage, fairness in collection, data minimization (the less you take, the best it is), storage limitation, integrity and confidentiality and inform the user about potential leaks or incident. How to explain a clear purpose of data retention, when you don’t know which service will come from your data collection ? How can you assess the risks, when you have a dynamic system, with cross-system responsability ? How can you garantee anonimity when so much information, including geo-localized ones are collected ? Interesting questions that smart cities will have to answer…

Smart city opportunities. In case citizen consider smart cities as life improvment, some ways to roll out smart city could come with great benefit for the society. Without ignoring potential threat to citizen privacy coming with smart city, Philippe Mouron drafted for us some positive aspects of it. The idea to integrate citizen into service design could be a great way to improve service relevance. In addition, the collection of data, and the fact that data belong to the citizen may accelerate the movment of open data. Philippe advocated also for a better mixing og legal and tech know how in the lifecycle of devices, in order to make sure, that all do see an interest in “the silence of the chips” (aka, users being in control for stopping data collection and leak towards to servers).

What about machine learning ? We discussed during that day the concept of machine learning. I reminded the audience its basic principles. You know. The fact that machine learnng is a sub-categoty of artificial intelligence, which consists in predicting the future (or the most probable one), based on past data. I listed the required skills and tools to roll out machine learning based services (aka, software, some good pieces of data, a smart scientist fine tuning your model). I reminded the audience the first use cases benefiting the machine learning, which are marketing, search and recommendation, security, health and smart cars. One of the main take away that I asked people to remind was the fact that we were switching from a determinist world (where each line of code is describing a possible situation, and where programs take well know roads), toward a world where we describe our environment with a model, with more or less errors and accuracy. Based, on that I took the opportunity to raise questions that machine learning triggers for me, such as privacy, liability and error management. And I got few answers from the other speakers.

What could be the legal impact of machine learning ? @rubin demonstrated how the machine learning could impact the legal business, replacing some assets of the lawers and potentially introducing a better undertanding of risk and gains around trials. Rubin also reminded that the law was not designed for robots, but for human and insuring fair interactions among humans, including in business situation, leveraging on technology. He gave some intersting perspectives on how to pave the way towards a mastered artificial intelligence deployment, based on few principles. Clear responsability, transparence of artificial intelligence in decision making (specially for the ones suffering the decision), efficient maintenance and regular audit of the artifial intelligence systems involved in services, and lastly, a permanent possibility to challenge the results of services based on artificial intelligence. Those principles based on good will and fair relation were good to hear and could be integrated in any strategy embedding machine learning, now.

My take away from that leal and tech workshop. Yes, definitely, mixing of perspectives and visions are key to have everyone progressing in understanding a transversal topic such as technoogy in society. And. The topic of ethic in software is definitely an additional item to add in our watch list, together with the privacy expectations.


Middle Life Crisis Toolbox : anger screwdriver


“Anger is how we seek to create an illusion of control where we feel none.” Martha Nussbaum

I have been looking after anger and anger this week. Here is what I found and liked.

On what is happening in our body when we get angry. This is where we should know the basics of the race happening between cortex and amygdala. The interesting part of this article relates also to the time requested during the anger pic and our return to a calm state. This is where we are still vulnerable to anger again. Well, read that  and understand your body :

On how to get angry a lot. That video is a list of common tricks to put ourselves into great anger. Garanteed result. Funny and so true…

On the reasons why we get angry.Anger begins with the many imperfections of existence“. In this section of the “Book of Life”, one can understand where anger starts and why it should get all our attention, and support. As you may get, expressing anger is expressing suffering. And the best thing to do, may be to try to understand (and relax a bit, too).

On the bridge between anger and creativity. This is a set of wise views on anger. One I like is “The internal living flame of anger always illuminates what we belong to, what we wish to protect and what we are willing to hazard ourselves for.” David Whyte. Some other interesting philosophical thoughts can be read here

On anger, forgiveness, and lovers. I can not refrein myself to reference another post from Brain Picking, about Martha Nussbaum views, which deals with anger in the specific context of lovers, where trust and links give a special sense and violence to anger. One can also find in this post, that anger and self respect, which have been linked for a lot of philosopher is challenged. Please have a read here :

Hope it helps !

Note : Picture “les pieds au mur” (foot on the wall) by Robert Doisneau

Note : other more general Middle Life Crisis ressources are available here

Middle Life Crisis Toolbox – fatigue, joy and paradox


Some of you may have been following my new style of writing posts about the why, the what, and the nothing of life. I am spending some reasonnable time reading and looking after some material to discover who I am (and who you are, too). I thought that sharing with you some of those amazing text or video, may help some of you, in their existential crisis…

Here are some good pieces. All of them brought a new look, a new way to read my life.

For the ones believing that they are worth nothing. I love the self-kindness of this text. It is about ‘I am enough’. Maybe it is too much, too naive, too positive, but it shows a path. This is to convince you that you are someone, that you are doing a good job at managing your life (aka, as you can), and that you should stop blaming you. Seriously. Self Love: I am Enough. And also, You are Enough.

For the ones being tired and that still believe they can judge a situation. This one is demonstrating that while we are in some difficult moment of life, our analysis is getting wrong, driven by some distorsion filters. Knowing it, allows us to take the  best (or less worst) moment to think or answer. “Why you should not trust your feeling”

For the ones who are looking for little pieces of joy everyday. Here is a good toolbox to take care of yourself, and actualy fight against the dream of the happiness coming one day, in a spatialship, independantly from you. This is about having a routine that extracts you from the run we all do everyday and allows you to enjoy simple moment. Google’s former happiness guru developed a three-second brain exercise for finding joy

For the ones who struggle everyday with the paradoxes. That text is explaining that looking for harmony and balance is a lost quest. Our world is made of thing and their opposite, and one can not always enjoy the one side of the world. That is part of the big learning pieces, to me. The Power of perception, and Critical Imagination.

For the ones who feel they are rejected and are suffering. This text explains how being rejected hurts like being physically hurted. It exposes why and how to try to prevent this suffering. Why rejection hurt so much

I hope you liked it, and even better, that those links helped you, in a way or in another. 

Note : Picture Saul Leiter, Red Umbrella, ca. 1958 © Saul Leiter

It’s okay, to be not okay …


Here is the story. I was in a networking event, meeting some old friends and discovering new ones. A good friend of mine was running toward an important thing (a cocktail,  a prospect, a cherry tomato, we don’t care…) and while walking in front of me, he smiled and launched a warm “hey Virginie, how are you today ?” without stopping his walk. I was in a kind-of-worried-anxious-tired-mood and I answered “Well…”. Immediate effect. That friend, lost his smile in a second, stopped his walk, u-turned, and staired at me with wondering eyes. I saw how my beginning of vague answer did affect him. I felt I had to reassure him “I’m okay, it’s okay, I’m okay, no worry”. Pretenting everything was okay, more then ever.

Not okay, really ?  I realized at that specific moment, the reason why I was most of the time reluctant to admit my bad feeling : it takes some energy and bravery to assume it. The possibility that something could go wrong is a bad signal that makes some people uncomfortable. But well, look at our crazy world : what can cause some bad feelings ? Potientally a lot : stress, multiple and constant social interactions, quick decision making, always on and ready, juggling different human facets and context. That, each day. And it may be hard to protect ourselves, in this multitude. Each of us has a kernel, that under attack will create ususally negative reactions, pain, sadness, violence, anger,… Well, I did not invent anything, I am not the first one telling that we all have a dark sidet (some french friends wrote about it [1] [2]). But the reason why I am talking about it is because I recently spent some times trying to understand my dark side and spent some time on my bad emotions. And I found few things to deal with those negative feelings.

Admit it. I do not question anymore, I am not hiding myself, I stopped denying. Admitting my dark mood and accepting the associated feeling has been a great victory (but the battle is still going on…).

Share with some. Not being okay can be dealt alone, but balancing this loneliness  with time spent with my friends and familly helps. So if I wanna share that bad feeling or state, with others. I choose them carefully. I take someone I believe will not be yelling or crying after my announcement, or who will not start denying, judging my feeling. This part is difficult, as our affective relations do not always allow to have the appropriate distance (which for me is empathy with no compassion). By the way, congratulation to the lucky winners, and thank you, friends, I love you !

Feel the feeling. My body and I are co-existing with that darkness (bad mood, bad thoughts, bad intentions, deep sadness, well, you see). That’s a fact, you have to cohabit with it. And I found that mindfulness can help : it suggests to recognize the physiologic signs in your body associated with the sadness, anger, all bad feelings. Once being able to detect from your own sensations where you are on your emotional scale, you can decide what to do with this :share it, keep it, monitor it, control it, or run away. Well, usually minfulness suggests to breath, but it’s up to you. There is no judgement here, neither a good way to manage that feeling. The objective is just to be in a position to choose how this internal feeling will affect your relation with the others and with the world.

Silence the feeling. Meditation is also an intersting exercice to create a DMZ. A white zone, empty, where nothing happens ! I just concentrate on breathing or noise around, filling my thoughts. Looking for that neutral state during ten minutes (or more, depending on how brave I am) helps also to relax the storm created by my internal fight between being kind and being that miserable thing able to yell at anyone.

Express the feeling. I have a wander-wonder mind. My thoughts are always climbing somewhere, making links, balancing, reminding something. I guess like all of you, there is always something happening. I have decided ot use that energy to write, draw, take picture, and share my thoughts on this blog. While doing those things, I have no shame (anymore) to integrate my dark filters. And I believe this is what makes me a human.

Learn. I am also trying to learn about the bad feeling source. Where does it come from, is there any explanation ? Any psycho or cognitive reasons. Explaning is not about judging or skipping, but about understanding, and thus helping better admiting (go back to point one of this post). Some side effect could be that bad feeling vanishes but this is not a quest for me, my own quest is understanding. At least this is my own mecanic that will allow me to survive the idea that I am not a perfect person. I recently had a great time looking at Brené Brown on how vulnerability is cool. I also got the difference between being aggressive and being violent. All those little pieces of information makes me understanding my own humanity and internal amazing life.

That’s a lot, right ? You can try some of those tools, or not. But experiencing that path is sooo interesting and rich, that I am just about to wish you veeeery bad days to give you a chance to play with it ! Mouhhaahhhaaaa…

[1] french blog of a french psy I like

[2] La bienveillance, c’était mieux avant