Macron Polishes France’s AI Agenda in Meeting With Meta, Google

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(Bloomberg) -- French President Emmanuel Macron met with artificial intelligence experts from Meta Platforms Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, among others, to discuss France’s role in AI research and regulation.

In a meeting at the Elysée Palace with Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and Digital Minister Jean-Noël Barrot, Macron heard from experts including chief AI scientist Yann LeCun from Meta and Joëlle Barral, engineering director at Google Research, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named because the meeting was private.

The guests talked about France’s status in the global AI race, the positive and negative impacts of the technology on society and Europe’s upcoming regulation known as the AI Act, according to the people. Macron’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment on Thursday’s meeting.

While Macron was mostly looking to hear from the guests, the attendees understood that the French president wants to play a key part in European and global AI regulation. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has also expressed interest in influencing regulation and Macron’s strategy stands to further escalate a rivalry between London and Paris to become the go-to destination for all things tech, innovation and venture capital.

Macron is expected to present France’s blueprint regarding generative AI next week at Paris technology conference VivaTech, which starts June 14, according to people familiar with the matter. Next week he is also scheduled to speak about the country’s economic sovereignty, and meet with representatives of a drug-making plant and a high-tech sneaker company before addressing an event about how to reduce the carbon footprint of planes, the people said.

Elon Musk, chief executive officer of electric-car maker Tesla Inc. will also attend the VivaTech conference. Last month, Musk said after meeting with Macron in Paris that he was confident that Tesla would make significant investments in France in the future.

Macron Aims to Convince Musk That France Is Top Electric Car Hub

The Elysée meeting also featured Antoine Bordes, vice president of European defense startup Helsing; Arthur Mensch, a former DeepMind scientist and co-founder of Mistral AI, a potential French rival to OpenAI; Laurent Daudet, co-CEO of LightOn; and Charles Gorintin, co-founder of insurance unicorn Alan.

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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