Emmanuel Macron wants global tech governance — and France has a special role to play in it

Emmanuel Macron wants global tech governance — and France has a special role to play in it

  • French President Emmanuel Macron gave a very political speech at the VivaTech conference on May 24, 2018.
  • It requires GAFA to take the common good into account when innovating and proposes a “common global structure” to govern artificial intelligence.
  • Emmanuel Macron also suggested that France become “the country where we build, where we think sustainable and responsible innovation”.
  • Emmanuel Macron wants to “ensure that all internet and new technology players around the world will have invented the rules with us that they will also need.”

Invited to speak to the gotha of tech gathered at the VivaTech 2018 conference, this Thursday, May 24, in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron took the opportunity to make a deeply political proposal to the GAFA: to reflect at the international level on the regulatory framework of tech, in order to ensure that innovation is not at the expense of the general interest.

“Making money, creating jobs, satisfying your shareholders is great. Especially creating jobs, as far as I’m concerned. Now we are all in the same boat. It is not possible to have a tech ecosystem that lives as if it were not part of an environment. (…) You must be – and thank you for the commitments you made yesterday.”

The day before, the French president had received sixty bosses at the Elysee Palace, on the occasion of a Tech for Good summit that he wants to renew every year.

“We will follow all the initiatives that you are going to announce today and we will follow up every semester on the progress made. It’s a pressure for us and for you. (…) Let’s come back here in a year and have a Tech for Good summit every year and put pressure on those who are not part of the club and expand the club.”

But Emmanuel Macron wants to go even further. On artificial intelligence, he said that he had discussed with Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, the project of creating a kind of “common governance on artificial intelligence for humanity,” to have a common global structure”.

The French president specifies that it is “not a question of regulating at this stage but of coordinating the regulations and creating a common reflection on AI”.

And for the French president, France will have a special role to play in this project:

“Now, all together, let’s decide to make this country the gateway to the new regulation. I want to make France the country where we build, where we think sustainable and responsible innovation. Let’s move forward and move forward together. (…) Don’t let go of anything. I want to make our country, this country that will at the same time think the world and make that all the players of the internet and of the new technologies of the whole world will have with us invented the rules that they will also need.

YouTube/VivaTech

The two current models are not suitable for him:

“You have an American model. The American model is unregulated. It is decided by private actors. It was great at the beginning and for innovation. But this model is going to have problems because, from now on, it is impossible for governments to explain to citizens how it works. It is impossible for a government to say that in terms of personal data, online harassment, taxation, we are no longer in charge. All these subjects are the work of the government. This is our responsibility. The American model is not sustainable because there is no political responsibility.”

“On the other side, you have a Chinese model, very efficient and over-centralized. But he doesn’t have the same values as us in terms of privacy, human rights, equality. AI, data collection, are organized by the government.”

“Our challenge is to create a common regulatory framework at European level. This is the condition for sustainable innovation.”

Emmanuel Macron cited as an example the GDPR, the new European regulation on personal data that comes into force on May 25, to explain his vision:

“We are creating a European sovereignty for personal data. And we need to do the same for the cloud and for AI. (…) We put you in a situation of knowing what the rules of the game are.”

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