Nao Robot (French company Aldebaran)
26 January 2017

#FranceIA: the national artificial intelligence strategy is underway

Axelle Lemaire and Thierry Mandon have launched the national strategy in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). As with the French Tech initiative, it focuses on identifying and bringing together actors in the sector, which holds a wealth of opportunities for progress and improving the living conditions of all citizens.

Content published under the Government Cazeneuve from 2016 06th December to 2017 14th May
Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) over the past few years have given some idea of the major potential such technology has, as much in terms of growth as of progress to the benefit of one and all. Numerous initiatives, public and private alike, have been implemented throughout the world to highlight the opportunities inherent in AI and discuss the prospects for creation that it offers.
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What is AI?
According to Marvin Minsky, who was one of its pioneers, AI is “the science of making machines do things that would require intelligence if done by men”. These days, this definition seems too restrictive, as it limits itself to logical processes that might apply to circumscribed research areas such as the game of chess or automatic demonstration of theorems. Present-day computer science tends to put forward a rather more operational and wider-ranging definition, according to which AI consists of succeeding in making machines do things that men do today better than them, including adapting, learning, communicating and interacting with their environments in a rich and varied manner.

The Government focused its attention on the subject with a view to launching its own national AI strategy, largely basing itself on the advances made by the Law for a Digital Republic. On 20 January, Axelle Lemaire and Thierry Mandon launched France’s AI strategy at the Agoranov Incubator. For two months, institutional actors, researchers, companies and startups will be meeting to help set the broad guidelines for France to follow in the realm of AI.

The #FranceIA strategy

France boasts a number of major advantages to develop its national strategy in the field of AI:
  • A quality training offer and researchers whose excellence is acknowledged throughout the world.
  • Particularly dynamic ecosystems of innovation encompassing French Tech startups and major industrial groups, a number of which have already made the subject their own and constitute natural outlets for innovation transfers in the field of AI.
  • A favourable legislative and regulatory framework with the Law for a Digital Republic, which enshrines the sequence of production, dissemination and circulation of data as a lever of growth for innovative companies and an essential driver of development in AI.
As with the French Tech initiative, the national AI strategy’s top priority is to identify and bring together actors in order to foster the structuring of a fully-rounded French industrial sector. A number of workgroups are planned for, with the process set to come to an end on 28 March 2017 with “IA Days” during which the conclusions of work carried out will be presented.

An ethical debate facilitated by the CNIL

It is nonetheless true that AI poses a number of fundamental questions with regard to ethics, morality and values. Taking account of concerns that might arise as to safety, social and economic balances and respect of rights, the Law for a Digital Republic entrusted the National Commission for Information Technology and Liberties (CNIL) with the task of organising a useful, in-depth ethical debate to allay any such fears.
The Commission started work on 23 January, with the objective of ensuring the characteristics that must be at the heart of the French AI model: respect for privacy, protection of personal data, transparency, accountability of actors and contribution to collective wellbeing.
The France AI strategy aims above all to make the most of this potential in order to prepare the future, in the interests of the economy and the country’s international influence, with social progress as its guiding light.