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Macron Launches AI Strategy to Lure Talent back to France

French President Emanuel Macron revealed his new Artificial Intelligence strategy in a talk at the Paris-based Collège de France research institute on Thursday.

Macron said that he did not want France to “miss the AI train” and that he aimed at competing in AI tech with world leaders United States and China.

“AI is a technological, economical, social and of course ethical revolution,” he said in a speech. “Such a revolution will not come about in fifty or sixty years, it’s happening now. There are novel opportunities and we can choose to follow some innovations or not.”

Macron’s plan is luring back talent to France: French AI researchers are among the best in the world— but they currently work in Silicon Valley or London for tech giants such as Facebook, DeepMind or Google.

The plan is to invest £1.32 billion in AI tech until 2022, and to partner with big companies —from Microsoft to Samsung, Google and Fujitsu— to open new AI centres in France.

In addition, France’s public computer science research institution INRIA will work out a national AI plan together with four or five other partners— giving AI researchers access to cloud computing capabilities, and encouraging more and more people studying and working in AI— at least twice as many as today by the end of Macron’s first term.

The strategy will also make it easier for people working on AI PhDs to launch their own startups, or to work for a private company while they are still completing their research. Macron also was at pains to assure that France will be strongly committed to data privacy— especially when it comes to sharing government-owned data with AI companies.

While some questioned France’s real chance of becoming a credible competitor for the US and China, the UK should probably take notice that, as it embarks on the last leg of its uncertainty-laden journey towards Brexit, France is trying hard to make itself attract to AI talent from all around the world — including from across the English Channel.

Image via Emmanuel Macron/Twitter



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