France to invest €1.5 billion in artificial intelligence by 2022

France will invest €1.5 billion ($1.85 billion) into artificial intelligence (AI) research and development up to 2022, the Élysée Palace presidency announced on Thursday.


French President Emmanuel Macron will announce his new AI strategy at the Paris-based Collège de France research institute later on Thursday.

Macron has said he does not want France to “miss the AI train” as he introduces measures designed to compete with the United States and China, the current global leaders in AI technology. He has also said he wants to ensure France adopts ethical measures to regulate the industry.

The new proposals are aimed, in part, at luring more top researchers to the country. Tech giants including Samsung, Google and Fujitsu have already announced plans to set up new AI centres in France.

Microsoft has already opened France’s first AI school in Paris to train students for the jobs of the future with a free seven-month course. It is hoped that investments in such high-tech training will help offset the expected loss of jobs to artifical intelligence in the coming years. By 2030 it is predicted that most of the world will be employed in new tech industries.

The French government is focusing on a multi-pronged strategy to boost its AI industry focusing on four sectors: defence, health, transport and environment.

But some say the new measures are unlikely to be enough.

“In terms of artifical intelligence, France has a few strengths but immense weaknesses compared to the US and China,” said Laurent Alexandre, an expert in artificial intelligence. “They are miles ahead of us.”