Macron Sets France’s AI Agenda In Meeting With Meta, Google

France’s president reportedly wants to secure a place in the artificial intelligence (AI) race.

As Bloomberg News reported Friday (June 9), Emmanuel Macron has met with AI experts from Google and Meta to discuss his country’s role in AI regulation and research.

Sources with knowledge of the matter said the meetings underscored that Macron wants France to play an important role in AI regulation, both in Europe and on a global scale.

The report notes that British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has likewise shown interest in influencing regulation, which means Macron’s strategy could intensify a rivalry between London and Paris as the countries work to become a global tech hub.

Sunak is due to speak during London Tech Week on Monday (June 12), where he address the fact that the “tectonic plates of technology are shifting.”

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“We must act — and act quickly — if we want not only to retain our position as one of the world’s tech capitals … but to go even further, and make this the best country in the world to start, grow and invest in tech businesses,” according to Sunak’s prepared marks, as reported by Reuters.

Last month, Macron invited hundreds of global business leaders to France to showcase the country’s ability to attract foreign investment. Macron has said recent investments by international companies add up to more than $10 billion.

His efforts on the AI front come as the European Union is getting closer to passing AI regulations. Late last month, Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner of Competition, said a draft code of conduct on AI could come within weeks. 

“Generative AI is a complete game-changer,” said Vestager, whose comments were reported by Reuters. “Everyone knows this is the next powerful thing. So within the next weeks we will advance a draft of an AI code of conduct,” she said, adding the hope that a final proposal would be signed by the industry “very, very soon.”

The AI Act could become the world’s first comprehensive legislation governing AI, dealing with generative AI like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, while banning the use of facial recognition in public and on predictive policing tools.

“This vote is a milestone in regulating AI, and a clear signal from the Parliament that fundamental rights should be a cornerstone of that,” Kim van Sparrentak, a member of Holland’s Greens party, said last month . “AI should serve people, society, and the environment, not the other way around.”

In an interview with PYMNTS earlier this month, Mattias Ljungman, founder of the U.K.-based Moonfire Ventures, cautioned against taking a hard-line approach to AI regulations that could hinder innovation and competition, and slow firms’ progress in the fast-growing sector. 

“Although we respect the idea, the last thing that we want is to slow things down. We should allow people to use these technologies because it will spur growth [and] allow us to have better societies,” he said.