Mounir Mahjoubi was told about the French brain drain, Chinese money in AI and GAFA operations
Mounir Mahjoubi, Secretary of State for Digital, has broad responsibilities, which range from the digital transformation of the state to support French Tech companies.
During the Night of artificial intelligence, on February 8, 2018, in Paris, the young minister also stressed the importance of his mission in the fight against the digital divide and inclusion when “20% of the French are missing out” on the digital revolution.
On the occasion of this event, Business Insider France asked Mounir Mahjoubi about the current challenges in artificial intelligence, while Cédric Villani must hand over his recommendations on France’s strategy in artificial intelligence.
Business Insider France: Does France’s plan for AI provide enough means to cope with the considerable investments announced by China?
Mounir Mahjoubi: We are not summarizing France’s strategy in terms of artificial intelligence to an amount. It’s much more than that. It will involve the private and the public. The mobilization is general: how can companies emerge in the ecosystem, startups in the deep AI or startups that use AI, to create new floors. It is necessary to train, grow and deploy. One of the pillars of this strategy will be talent.
But the talents are leaking. For example, our data scientists are going to Facebook because we don’t have any datasets of the same scale to offer them in France. How are you going to fix this?
This is the subject with the General Regulation on the protection of personal data (GDPR) that raises the question of the status and availability of public data and the collection of private data. It is necessary to create new legal vehicles for this. Health data is not used enough. But we could have more services. It is also necessary to ask the question of which datasets we need: transport, energy, health? Facebook has data on interactions and photos.
Facebook installing FAIR, its AI research laboratory, in France — so is that a good or a bad thing?
Foreign investments that help create startups and develop research are positive for France. It’s always virtuous to have research centers at home. But my goal is not that Facebook recruits 50 more researchers in France, it’s that a French startup recruits 50 researchers and then 1000 researchers in France and goes international. We have to think big.