Macron: France to invest nearly €1.5 billion for AI until 2022


French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that his government would invest €1.5 billion into artificial intelligence research until the end of his term in 2022 as part of a strategy to accelerate innovation.

“We have to be in a position to build, in France and in Europe, an artificial intelligence ecosystem,” Macron said. “We should have a policy of open data,” he added, and “have to think on the subject from a political and ethical point of view … to come up with a common understanding and rules.”

Macron spoke at the presentation of a report aimed to boost Frances capabilities in artificial intelligence, drafted by member of parliament Cédric Villani.

“This is the way that we can guarantee our future industry,” said the president.

“We should not be afraid and we should not refuse change,” said Macron, addressing public concerns over using computer algorithms in a series of applications without making sure these algorithms can be explained.

The report comes as lawmakers fear that France is falling behind China and the United States on AI. France was starting from way behind China and the United States on AI, and their fiscal-deficit-challenged state would not be able to tap billions of euros in taxpayer money.

Part of Frances funding will go to Franco-German projects, the president said in his speech.

Germanys new research minister underlined Frances plea to join hands with EU countries to push for a stronger artificial intelligence sector: “German and French companies need to become leaders in the face of Chinese and American companies,” said German Research Minister Anja Karliczek.

Artificial intelligence “is a great source of hope but also a great source of fear — which is why we need to start a societal debate around this idea,” Karliczek said, adding “We need a formal ethical framework.”

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