Europe in general and France in particular are always complaining about how much the US has a strong lead in A.I., information technology and the hardware that goes with it. In the 70’ they used to say, In France we don’t have oil, but we have ideas. Nowadays, it could be: « In France we don’t have IT, but we have ideas ». So what better way to brush off this technological languor than to use some humor combined with a bit of wishful thinking?
The question asked on the add « How about that ChatGPT, can you do that? » showing a hen laying a fresh egg, quickly reminds us of the pride the French hold in their agriculture. Fresh, natural, cooperative. Yes, because Loué is a cooperative, and the name rings a bell in every French ear.
Beyond this, the quirky new add reminds us of some of the fundamental cultural differences between the old and the new continent and France in particular. Whilst in North America a brave new world is being sought out by using the miracle of technology in general and A.I. in particular, a strong French current is trying on the contrary to maintain if not reinforce its roots into the « truth » of nature. Whilst one perspective seeks purity, the other seeks naturalness.
Now, some may think this thing about naturalness is running around naked and hugging trees. Let me reassure you, not at all. It is about making a great mousse au chocolat, a delicious omelet or the perfect poached egg. And this all about science, logistics and holistics - and all of this with a reasoned amount of naturalness.
Science because to understand the biological implication of washing or not washing an egg - another continental schism - requires firstly in-depth complex scientific studies to evaluate factors such as porosity and the effectiveness of the cuticle, that little film protecting the egg within seconds of being laid. Temperature variations impacting the inside density will act much in the same way as a clean room in the semi-conductor industry : increasing outside density will send all the bacteria inside the egg.
And then, cooking an egg requires a minimum understanding of physics, the production tools and temperature curves. Albeit one will not on a Sunday morning call upon the quality engineer to elaborate a six sigma process to ascertain the perfect egg, awareness, care and minutia will be highly recommended.
After that, you have logistics. Why else do you want to have part of your supply chain implanted at the rear of your own car or aircraft manufacturing plant? Freshness. Well maybe not freshness, but in any event, reducing your « delivery circuit » has benefits, especially when it comes to ingredients, as there is no good cooking without good ingredients.
- and for the record, I’m not saying we have to resort to protectionism, only that, going far to make cheap doesn’t always pay off.
Finally we have the holistic aspect. As explained in this detailed article by Forbes
, putting the onus of a clean egg-laying environment on the producer pushes toward upstream quality control. But more importantly in my view, in terms of a systems approach, is the use of agroforestry as a strategy for poultry and egg production. By getting away from assembly-chain like egg production, using the synergies between trees, their ecosystem and the hens, you can produce quality eggs that taste good, present a vivid orange yolk and that you can use raw for your chocolate mousse.
So what does this all boil down to, you may ask. Well, that behind all the science and the technology, there is always a deeply ingrained filter that will guide our decision. In this case, it can be the opposition between purity and naturalness. Too much of either is always detrimental. We need bacteria, we need some form of dirty stuff, believe it or not - for the well being of our brain notably - but in reasoned proportions. Wanting to do without technology is reckless just as leaving ChatGPT organize your day takes away what makes you human : effort and will, to choose notably - putting in a side note, food without effort nor will is not gastronomy, however spiffy and costly.
Coming back to technology, as laid out in detail in the essay Superposition, Innovation inspired by Joan of Arc, betting everything on technology is in part a bastard notion engendered by marketing wanting to make people believe that a product will relieve them of making any kind of effort. And, this may well be the next revolution in marketing, where the winning differentiation for a successful businesses will be succeeding in motivating customers to make an effort, whether to educate themselves, to learn patience or to actually merit the product.
So where does all this leave us?
Well, that the French need to understand why they have such great mathematicians but so few companies capable of applying these capabilities to a real world business; that to start a prosperous business you need to break some eggs; that a perfectly sanitized world can only be found in Duloc; and that to make a gourmet omelet, you better count on yourself rather than ChatGPT.