Google, Microsoft, Samsung and Fujitsu are counting on France and its researchers to shape the future of AI

Google, Microsoft, Samsung and Fujitsu are counting on France and its researchers to shape the future of AI

  • The long—awaited report on the strategy of France — and Europe – in artificial intelligence (AI) was unveiled this Wednesday, March 28, 2018, at the end of the day.
  • He recommends the establishment of a “data ecosystem”, focusing on four priority sectors and stemming the flight of French talent if it wants to play in the big leagues, alongside the United States and China.
  • At the same time, Google, Samsung, Fujitsu and Microsoft have announced investments in France to develop their AI research.
  • These companies chose France for its talents in AI, mathematics and algorithmics.

The report on the strategy of France — and Europe —, led by the deputy Cédric Villani, in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) was made public yesterday, Wednesday, March 28, 2018.

The latter recommends in particular the establishment of a “data ecosystem”, focusing on four priority sectors — health, environment, transport and defense — and stem the flight of French talent if France wants to be able to be a voice that counts in the field of AI, alongside the United States and China.

At the same time, four well-known international companies announced that they have chosen France to advance in the field of AI. These are the American giant Google, Japan’s Fujitsu, South Korea’s Samsung and Microsoft.

The giant Google, which had already announced the creation of an AI research center in its Paris offices last January, wants to continue to “help train the next generation of scientists and build bridges between academic research and the private sector,” as its CEO, Sundar Pichai, had said.

Thus, the search engine is teaming up with the École Polytechnique to launch next September an international chair dedicated to AI. The training course entitled “Artificial Intelligence & Visual Computing”, offered in association with Inria, ENSTA ParisTech and Télécom ParisTech, will participate in a scholarship program to attract promising international candidates in the field. Google France will offer internships within its Polytechnic students.

The South Korean electronics giant Samsung has, meanwhile, decided to open its third largest global research center dedicated to AI in France, after those in the United States and South Korea, announced yesterday its CEO Young Sohn to President Emmanuel Macron.

This new laboratory, which will initially have about “fifteen people”, but which should eventually bring together more than a hundred researchers, will be located in Paris or on the Saclay plateau, known as a major technological and scientific hub in France.

Japan’s Fujitsu is to expand its French AI research center to Europe. The latter will be expanded by 200 square meters, the Japanese group said.

In March 2017, Fujitsu inaugurated a research center within the Drahi X-Novation Center, the incubator dedicated to entrepreneurship and innovation of the Ecole polytechnique, on the plateau de Saclay (Palaiseau), after announcing an investment over five years of more than 50 million euros in France to innovate in the cloud, IoT, cybersecurity, but primarily in AI.

In a telephone interview with Reuters news agency, Benjamin Revcolevschi, Managing Director of Fujitsu France, said:

“More than a year and a half ago, we started an approach to convince the group that it was necessary to invest in France. We have talents in France, especially in artificial intelligence, algorithmics, mathematics that stand out from the crowd”.

On the occasion of the AI summit in Paris, the American giant Microsoft announced an investment of 30 million dollars over three years in France to develop a “trusted AI”. This investment over three years will result in particular in:

  • the creation of 3,000 new jobs in the French tech ecosystem,
  • the creation of Impact IA, described as “a collective of reflection and action”,
  • and the launch of AI Skills, “a national program based on the acquisition of skills around AI, cloud and code for all”.

‘Proof that we’re completely in the race’ for AI

At the microphone of France Inter, the deputy Cédric Villani, in charge of this mission on AI, had already hinted at these new investments, welcoming the “research capacity in AI” in France:

“Large American and Asian companies like to set up research centers on our territory, close to our students, our universities, our researchers… Tomorrow we’ll have more such announcements.”

The mathematician also added that these announcements are good news for France, because they are “proof that we are completely in the race” of AI:

“We should be delighted by these new investments. This is proof that we are completely in the race, but that we are being challenged to improve our training system, our research institutions, our research and industrial laboratories to keep attractiveness.”

Another member of the GAFA, Facebook had announced at the end of January that it would invest 10 million euros in France in the field of AI, because the country “plays a leading role in global research.”

Nevertheless, the report on France’s AI strategy highlights that French research is suffering from a “brain drain” to the digital giants — Facebook counts among its ranks the Frenchman Yann LeCun, one of the world’s leading AI experts, or Antoine Bordes, director of the European FAIR — and that it is necessary to improve the working conditions of researchers to be able to stem this problem.

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