EuroDiplomat

La French touch for Artificial Intelligence

Last Thursday (March 29) French President Emmanuel Macron released its plan for the development of technologies base on artificial intelligence (AI). In some way, it acknowledges the defeat of France and other European nations regarding the first internet wave and the big data. It should be noted that there are no European players among the famous “GAFAM” (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft). However, Mr. Macron’s goal is not to create an equivalent of “Airbus” for this new tech era.

 

 

The French State has promised to allocate 1.5 billion euros during Macron’s tenure. Out of this amount the government is going to boost to the sector by procuring 400 million euros in services related to AI. The measure is line with his view that France has to become a start-up. What this means is that the government is going to privilege the private sector, changing the paradigm of public research.

Macron is a fresh air to the country’s political scene. So far, he has succeeded to bring foreign direct investment in the IT sector, recently Fujitsu, Deepmind, Google, Samsung, Microsoft, and IBM have announced to settle research centers near the main engineering schools. Mr. Macron has benefited from the in-depth knowledge of the congressman Cedric Villani, also known for receiving the Fields Medal. Mr. Villani made publicly available a report that aims to place France as a global player in the AI revolution.

 

Mr. Villani would like to take the opportunity of this initiative to foster a public directive that would allow European actors to share data and tailor goods and services according to the users’ needs. EU authorities might hinder the development of future technologies if no regulation is approved. In such scenario, the US, China, and Canada would still lead the sector for many years to come.

The challenge to guarantee a new legal framework is also entwined with European funding for AI. Macron will have to better coordinate his actions with Günther Oettinger, the European Budget Commissioner, who expressed his desire to fund AI through traditional channels, i.e., the Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 programmes.

 

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