On 28 March, Samsung’s head of strategy had a meeting at the Elysée palace with Emmanuel Macron to discuss developing artificial intelligence in France.
After hosting Samsung CEO Young Sohn on 28 March, French President Emmanuel Macron announced a series of measures aimed at promoting artificial intelligence in France. Most notably, Samsung is set to set up a research centre dedicated to this particular technology – the third largest of its kind in the world, after the ones in South Korea and the USA. According to LesEchos.fr, the planned French centre will be directed by Luc Julia, a researcher who has previously worked on Siri, the Apple vocal assistant.
Over 100 researchers at the future Samsung centre
The future Samsung laboratory – being set up by a company which to date had barely 15 people in France based in a small centre – will be home to over 100 researchers and located either in Paris or at the "European Silicon Valley" that is the Plateau de Saclay, according to a press release from the President’s office.
At the same time, Japanese giant Fujitsu is looking to bring all of its European-based researchers togethers in its French centre, which currently occupies some 200 m² but which will be expanded and will join forces with the centre run by the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation (INRIA), also located in Saclay.
"After analysing the situation for over a year, the group found that France was ahead of the pack in terms of artificial intelligence, and there is a genuine belief that that country can play a major role," said Benjamin Revcolevschi, managing director of Fujitsu France (quote courtesy of Reuters).
Artificial intelligence also featuring heavily in Villani report
A few hours before his meeting with the strategic director of Samsung, Macron received a report from French MP Cédric Villani on the subject of artificial intelligence and which was tasked with defining a strategy to develop this technology in France. The report, which primarily focuses on the relationship between economic policy and data, defines four main areas in which the state is meant to "play a structuring role", namely health, mobility, the environment and security.
The document also deals with the issue of the impact of artificial intelligence on the world of work, and the potential to create new structures to anticipate and observe the consequence of AI and automation on jobs. Ethical questions are also raised, in particular regarding the transparency of algorithms and autonomous systems – a priority for improvement according to Villani, who was keen to reassure the French population.
France cannot afford to "miss the artificial intelligence train" in the words of Macron, whose ambitious programme is aimed at enabling France to get up to the same levels as the USA, Japan and South Korea in the field of AI.
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