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August 13, 2018

Emmanuel Macron’s AI Strategy: Controlled Disruption

France government plans to spend 1.5 billion Euros over the next 5 years to support research in the Artificial Intelligence field, collect data and encourage startups. The goal of the brand new national strategy is to build a competitive economy based on AI innovations. The president of France, in the interview for Wired, reveals ideas that should help France to challenge USA and China in the technological race.

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– Innovation that artificial intelligence brings into healthcare systems can totally change things: with new ways to treat people, to prevent various diseases, and a way – not to replace the doctors – but to reduce the potential risk – says Emmanuel Macron. Beside healthcare, he is also impressed by the use of AI in the mobility sector, especially autonomous driving.

Macron emphasizes, that “artificial intelligence will disrupt all the different business models.” Now is the right time to make a choice: to be a part of the change or to become a subject of disruption and to lose some opportunities, for example new jobs. The first objective of the strategy is to build champions on the AI field. It requires adaptable national structures, modern financing system and friendly regulations.

Getting access to data can transform medical care towards more predictive, personalized, patient-oriented. To make it real, Macron decided to open healthcare data for a research purposes in France. However access to data can be hazardous. – This data can be used to better treat people, it can be used to monitor patients, but it can also be sold to an insurer that will have intelligence on you and your medical risks, and could get a lot of money out of this information. The day we start to make such business out of this data is when a huge opportunity becomes a huge risk – claims Macron.

AI must be totally federalized

Nowadays US and China are the world leaders in AI. While in the US the success in driven by the private sector, in China a lot of data is collected and processed by the government. But Europe has different values and visions. If we want to manage our own choice of society and civilization, we have to become a part of AI revolution. Macron wants to lead this digital transformation, frame the discussion at a global scale. He perceives human progress same important as technological one. Furthermore, he is deeply convinced that AI must be totally federalized, because it’s about disruption that can for example take a lot of jobs in some sectors. That’s why his vision is a strategically regulated AI development based on interdisciplinarity where maths, social sciences, technology and philosophy meet together.

Another issue we have to address is that AI could jeopardize democracy – algorithms have a specific responsibility and they need to be fully transparent with no unfair bias in term of gender, age, or other individual characteristics. Macron will make algorithms transparent by opening data from government, publicly funded projects and incentivizing private companies to do so.

The president of France worries, that AI will lead to the reduction of the most replicable human activities. One of the biggest risks is to increase opportunities only for one group of people – qualified experts in technological innovation – while the middle and low class could face the disruption of their work places. – We will need people working with machines – emphasizes Macron. Another challenge on the international level are tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook or Amazon. On the one hand, they are very welcome to invest as they create new jobs. On the other hand, they disrupt traditional economic sectors, because “they don’t pay all the taxes they should in Europe, don’t contribute to dealing with negative externalities they create and follow another privacy rules that we have in Europe.”

– If I manage to develop a very strong, powerful ecosystem, number one in Europe on artificial intelligence dealing with mobility, defense, healthcare, fintech, etc. I think it will be a success. My concern is that there is a disconnect between the speediness of innovation and some practices, and the time for digestion for a lot of people in our democracies – concludes Macron.

It seems that the president of France’s visions – to recreate a European sovereignty in AI, especially on regulation, while US and China progress very quickly – are both brave and challenging.

Read the full interview

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