France, one of the leaders of AI : the ambitious government plan

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The French strategy for artificial intelligence was announced on Thursday, March 29 in the speech delivered by President Emmanuel Macron, closing the AI for Humanity Conference at the France College. This plan for the development of AI in France was presented after the release of the report that Cédric Villani made on this subject. In September 2017, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe entrusted Cédric Villani, mathematician and deputy of LREM , with the mission of making this report with the aim of « drawing up a roadmap for AI ». An investment of 1.5 billion euros in public funding over the five-year period has been announced, distributed in four fundamental pillars : health, agriculture, research, and autonomous cars. Emmanuel Macron also announced the creation of a network of institutes, laboratories and connected skills in public and private sectors, with the establishment of about five locations for accelerated research, with the objective to « build a research hub at the best global level in AI ». The head of State thus envisions a proactive opening of data in order to position France at the forefront of AI while underlining the urgency to build regulations « use by use, practice by practice », to protect personal data. In this sense the application in May of the General regulations on Data Protection (GDPR) may be the framework indicated. A reform to the Pact Act by the Minister of Finance is also planned, with the objective of allowing public researchers to work with a private entity with up to 50% because actually the collaboration is equivalent to only 20%. The President of the Republic wants to double the number of students in AI and encourage new talents with the launch of a call for research from now to the end of the summer. However, he has excluded the possibility to double the salaries of researchers. Laurent Alexandre, bioethics expert and head of the DNAVision DNA sequencing company, deplores the fact that AI researchers who have done 10 years of study and work 70 hours a week are paid 2500 euros net per month, while digital giants like Google are paying millions of dollars to the researchers. He also says that France has missed the artificial inteligence revolution and up to now it has become a digital colony of the American and Chinese. But this is not the first time the government has commited to the development of AI. In March 2017, former President François Hollande commissioned the report « France IA », a report containing the result of the work of 500 contributors from a dozen research groups, after which a budget of 1.5 billion euros has been committed for AI investment for a period of 10 years.