France is going to invest more than €1.5 billion ($1.85 billion) into artificial intelligence (AI) R&D from 2019 till 2022, as Élysée Palace presidency announced on Thursday.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced his new AI development strategy at the Paris-based Collège de France research institute.
Macron stressed that he does not want France to be behind other countries as he introduced the audience with new measures created to compete with the United States and China, the current global leaders in AI. He wants also to regulate the industry with additional measures.
The goal of the new proposals is attracting more top AI researchers to the country. Technology giants like Samsung, Fujitsu, Google and Microsoft are already working on setting up new AI research centres in France.
Earlier this month, Microsoft opened the first AI training centre in Paris, France as a part of the $30 million investment in AI R&D in France. The training centre started with 24 students, who will have a free seven-month course.
Training centres like mentioned earlier will balance the expected job-lose because of AI in the following years. Experts predict that many current professions will extinct by 2030 due to AI.
The main focus of this three-year strategy is four sectors: defence, health, transport and environment.
As a leading initiator of the strategy is the star mathematician Cedric Villani, now a lawmaker in Macron’s La République en marche (LREM) party. He held many interviews with AI experts who contributed to the creation of the strategy.
Villani’s initiative, given on Wednesday, emerges for doubling the pay for young researchers and engineers and tripling the number of students studying and specialising in AI R&D over the next three years.
On Wednesday Macron gathered a dozen AI experts and industry leaders, including Yann LeCun, the New York-based Frenchman who was in charge of the AI research lab at Facebook, and Demis Hassabis of Britain’s DeepMind – creator of the AlphaGo system that beat a master player at the Chinese game “Go” in 2016 and which will open its first European R&D centre in France.
“Much of the discussion centred on the best way to accompany the huge changes made possible by artificial intelligence and their ethical implications, and to ensure they are beneficial to humanity,” said Marie-Paule Cani, who will hold Google’s new AI chair, of the evening’s exchanges.
But some say the new measures are unlikely to be enough.
“In terms of artificial intelligence, France has a few strengths but immense weaknesses compared to the US and China,” said Laurent Alexandre, an expert in artificial intelligence.
“They are miles ahead of us.”