Macron pushes French AI potential

Close-up of French centrist politician Emmanuel Macron

President announces plans to invest €1.5billion in AI

President Emmanuel Macron will plough €1.5billion of France's money on a scheme to turn the country into a world leader for research and innovation into Artificial Intelligence.

“[Artificial intelligence] is a technological, economical, social and obviously ethical revolution,” Mr Macron said in a speech last week. “This revolution won’t happen in 50 or 60 years, it’s happening right now. There are new opportunities and we can choose to follow some innovations or not.”

Mr Macron was introducing measures to boost France’s capabilities in artificial intelligence and compete with the USA and China, current global vanguards of AI tech. He has also said that he wants to ensure France adopts ethical measures to regulate the industry.

The announcement came on the day companies including Samsung, Fujitsu, DeepMind, IBM and Microsoft unveiled plans to open offices dedicated to AI research in France. Other tech firms, including Facebook and Google, already work with researchers in the country.

Microsoft opened France's first AI school in Paris earlier this month. The school plans to train 400,000 students over the next three years.

The Institut national de recherche en informatique et en automatique (Inria) will create a national AI research programme with four or five partners.

Mr Macron said that there should be twice as many people studying and researching AI projects in France. Researchers will also be able to access and use cloud computing capacities for their work.

“We have to be in a position to build, in France and in Europe, an artificial intelligence ecosystem,” Mr Macron said. “We should have a policy of open data,” and “have to think on the subject from a political and ethical point of view … to come up with a common understanding and rules.”

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