- President Macron underscores France's commitment to becoming a pivotal AI hub in Europe, with plans to significantly bolster investments in AI research and training.
- The French government envisages the creation of two or three "big global players" in the AI sector to compete with the likes of Microsoft and Google.
- France is advocating for comprehensive, global AI regulation, seeking cooperation from major players including the U.S. and the U.K.
In an ambitious stride, France is fervently endeavouring to establish itself as the epicentre of artificial intelligence (AI) in Europe. This move embodies France's recognition of AI as a pivotal, rapidly evolving technology, demanding global attention.
"We believe we're at the forefront of AI development in continental Europe, and we intend to amplify our efforts," said President Emmanuel Macron in a recent conversation with CNBC's Karen Tso. AI's transformative potential has nations vying for the title of AI hub, given its revolutionary implications for various industries, including finance and healthcare. It is also emerging as a key player in the ongoing technological feud between the U.S. and China.
The increasing buzz around AI has been further amplified by the popularity of U.S. firm OpenAI's ChatGPT chatbot. This excitement was evident at France's annual Viva Tech conference, where AI dominated discussions across start-ups, established tech companies, and a range of other industries such as cosmetics and banking.
French government officials, including President Macron, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, and Digital Minister Jean-Noel Barrot, participated in the event, reinforcing the government's commitment to AI advancement in France. "We're going all in on training and research investments," Macron remarked, further noting that France's flourishing AI scene benefits from a rich talent pool and a vibrant start-up ecosystem.
While the U.S is widely considered the global AI frontrunner, France aims to close this gap. Macron asserted, "It's clear the U.S. leads the AI sector, mostly due to their extensive domestic market. But we are determined to close this gap and accelerate our AI development."
Despite its lofty ambitions, France's pursuit faces robust competition, even within the European Union. Anton Dahbura, Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Assured Autonomy, notes, "France has the potential to lead in Europe, but Germany and the U.K. present formidable competition."
AI's importance to France is further underscored by its focus on creating global players in the technology. Although France lacks a giant in the AI space akin to the U.S., it is committed to fostering two or three global AI juggernauts.
Regulation of AI technology forms a crucial aspect of France's strategy to emerge as an AI hub. France advocates a global regulation on A.I., a goal it intends to achieve through the G7 group and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. However, France maintains a competitive yet collaborative stance towards the U.S., understanding the need for its participation for effective global regulation.
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