Pierre Lévy

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Pierre Lévy

Pierre Lévy (French: [levi]; born 1956) is a Tunisian-born French philosopher, cultural theorist and media scholar who specializes in the understanding of the cultural and cognitive implications of digital technologies and the phenomenon of human collective intelligence.

He introduced the collective intelligence concept in his 1994 book L'intelligence collective: Pour une anthropologie du cyberspace (Collective Intelligence: Mankind's Emerging World in Cyberspace).[1][2] Lévy's 1995 book, Qu'est-ce que le virtuel? (translated as Becoming Virtual: Reality in the Digital Age) develops philosopher Gilles Deleuze's conception of "the virtual" as a dimension of reality that subsists with the actual but is irreducible to it. In 2001, he wrote the book Cyberculture.

He was a professor at the communication department of the University of Ottawa,[3] where he hold a Canada Research Chair in Collective Intelligence. Lévy is fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and received several awards and academic distinctions.[citation needed] Pierre Lévy is currently retired and works on developing the Information Economy MetaLanguage (IEML).[4][5]

Life and work[edit]

Lévy was born in Tunisia, to a Sephardic Jewish family, before moving to France. He is one of the major philosophers working on the implications of cyberspace and digital communications. Lévy has written a dozen of books that have been translated in more than 12 languages and are studied in many universities all over the world. His principal work, published in French in 1994 and translated into English, is entitled Collective Intelligence: Mankind's Emerging World in Cyberspace.[6]

As early as 1990 Lévy published a book about the merging of digital networks and hypertextual communication. Lévy's theory of knowledge spaces and the cosmopedia foreshadowed the emergence of Wikipedia and anticipates wikinomics, and the efficacy of shared distributed knowledge systems.[7]

From 1993 to 1998 Lévy was Professor at the University of Paris VIII, where he studied the concept of collective intelligence and knowledge-based societies. He has contributed to many scholarly discourses about cyberculture.[8]

He was a member of the editorial board of the Revue virtuelle project of the Pompidou Center in Paris from 1995 to 1997 and was the author of a report on cyberculture for the Council of Europe in 1996.[citation needed]

In the chapter Interactivity from his book Cyberculture (2001), Lévy argues that analogue communication (telephone, mail) differs from digital communication (email, chat) in terms of temporal organization and material involvement of their communication systems. He claims that interactivity is a vague term that "has more to do with finding the solution to a problem, the need to develop new ways to observe, design, and evaluate methods of communication, than it does with identifying a simple, unique characteristic that can be assigned to a given system".[9] Henry Jenkins, among others, cites him as an important influence on theories of online collective intelligence.[citation needed]

In Becoming Virtual: Reality in the Digital Age Lévy explores the way we virtualise every aspect of our lives, from real time (media) interaction through language, to our actions through technology, and our social relations through institutions.[citation needed] And in each case the mechanism is the same: we create some artifact, more or less material, which allows us to shift what's at stake away from the immediate here-and-now and towards a problematic where new possibilities open up.[citation needed]

Current project[edit]

Lévy's current project focuses on the development of an Information Economy MetaLanguage (IEML)[10] for the purposes of improving knowledge management as part of his works on the design of a universal system for semantic addressing of digital documents.[11][12][13]

Main publications[edit]

  • Lévy P., L’Œuvre de Warren McCulloch, in «Cahiers du CREA», 7, Paris 1986, pp. 211–255
  • Id., Analyse de contenu des travaux du Biological Computer Laboratory (BCL), in «Cahiers du CREA», 8, Paris 1986, pp. 155–191.
  • Id., La Machine Univers. Création, cognition et culture informatique, La Découverte, Paris 1987.
  • Id., Les Technologies de l’intelligence. L’avenir de la pensée à l’ère informatique, La Découverte, Paris 1990.
  • Id., L’idéographie dynamique. Vers une imagination artificielle?, La Découverte, Paris 1991.
  • Id., Authier M., Les Arbres de connaissances, La Découverte, Paris 1992.
  • Id., Le cosmos pense en nous, in «Chimères», XIV, 1992, poi in Id., Chambat P. (a cura di), Les Nouveaux Outils de la pensée, Éditions Descartes, Paris 1992.
  • Id., De la programmation considérée comme un des beaux-arts, La Découverte, Paris 1992.
  • Id., L’Intelligence collective. Pour une anthropologie du cyberespace, La Découverte, Paris, 1994.
  • Id., Qu’est-ce que le virtuel?, La Découverte, Paris 1995.
  • Id., Cyberculture. Rapport au Conseil de l’Europe dans le cadre du projet “Nouvelles technologie: coopération culturelle et communication”, Odile Jacob, Paris 1997.
  • Id., Labrosse D., Le Feu libérateur, Arléa, Paris 1999.
  • Id., World Philosophie: le marché, le cyberespace, la conscience, Odile Jacob, Paris 2000.
  • Id., Cyberdémocratie. Essai de philosophie politique, Odile Jacob, Paris 2002.
  • Id., The Semantic Sphere 1. Computation, Cognition and the Information Economy, ISTE / Wiley, London and NY, 2011.
  • Id., Société du savoir et développement humain, in P. Imbert (a cura di), Le Canada et la société des savoirs, CR Université d’Ottawa, Ottawa 2007, pp. 115–175.
  • Id., Toward a Self-referential Collective Intelligence: Some Philosophical Background of the IEML Research Program, First International Conference, ICCCI 2009, Wroclaw (Poland) 10.2009, in N.N. Than, K. Ryszard, C. Shyi-Ming (a cura di), Computational Collective Intelligence, Semantic Web, Social Networks and Multi-agent Systems, Springer, Berlin-Heidelberg-NY 2009, pp. 22–35.
  • Id., Algebraic Structure of IEML Semantic Space, CI Lab Technical Report, 2009.


  1. ^ L'intelligence collective. Pour une anthropologie du cyberspace, Paris, La Découverte, 1994 (ISBN 2-7071-2693-4)
  2. ^ Lévy, Pierre; Farley, Art; Lollini, Massimo (2019-12-31). "Collective Intelligence, the Future of Internet and the IEML: Interview to Pierre Lévy by Art Farley and Massimo Lollini". Humanist Studies & the Digital Age. 6 (1): 5–31. doi:10.5399/uo/hsda.6.1.2. ISSN 2158-3846.
  3. ^ "ieml". ieml. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
  4. ^ IEML in a Nutshell, 9 March 2013
  5. ^ IEML blog
  6. ^ Collective Intelligence: Mankind's Emerging World in Cyberspace ISBN 0-7382-0261-4 Perseus, 1999.
  7. ^ Levy, Pierre (1997). Collective Intelligence. New York and London: Plenium Trade. pp. 215–220. ISBN 0306456354. . In the fourth space, "the subject of knowledge is shaped by its encyclopedia.
  8. ^ Cochran, Terry (1999). "Thinking at the Edge of the Galaxy: Pierre Levy's World Projection". Boundary. 26. 2 (3): 63–85. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
  9. ^ Lévy, Pierre. "Cyberculture". Univ. of Minnesota Press. 2001, p. 228. (ISBN 0816636109)
  10. ^ IEML site
  11. ^ "ieml". ieml. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
  12. ^ Álvaro, Sandra (March 26, 2014). "IEML: A PROJECT FOR A NEW HUMANISM. AN INTERVIEW WITH PIERRE LÉVY". Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona. Archived from the original on May 2, 2015. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  13. ^ Pearson, Jordan (May 26, 2015). "How the Internet's Collective Human Intelligence Could Outsmart AI". Motherboard. Vice Media, Inc. Archived from the original on June 3, 2015. Retrieved August 24, 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Berardi F., Mutazioni e cyberpunk, Costa & Nolan, Genova 1994.
  • Id., (a cura di), Cibernauti. Tecnologia, comunicazione, democrazia, Castelvecchi, Roma 1996.
  • Corchia L., "La teoria degli spazi antropologici di Pierre Lévy", in The Lab’s Quarterly, 3, 2007.
  • Id., La democrazia nell’era di Internet. Per una politica dell’intelligenza collettiva, Le Lettere, Firenze 2011.
  • de Kerckhove D., La pelle della cultura. Un’indagine sulla nuova realtà elettronica, Costa & Nolan, Genova 1996.
  • Id. [1997], L’intelligenza connettiva. L’avvento della Web society, Aurelio De Laurentiis multimedia, Milano 1999.
  • Magrassi P., Digitalmente confusi, Franco Angeli, Milano 2011, pp. 171–182
  • Rizza G., L’intelligenza collettiva di Pierre Lévy, Zerobook, Roma 2007.
  • Rodotà S., Tecnopolitica. La democrazia e le nuove tecnologie della comunicazione, Laterza, Roma-Bari 1997, 20042.

External links[edit]