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In The Spotlight: Macron Explains France's AI Strategy At Viva Tech

During a 16-minute response to a question about AI, the French president outlined the nation's strategy and the stakes.

From left to right: Everywhere CTO Laurence Grand-Clément, French president Emmanuel Macron, Sistafund Managing Partner Tatiana Jama. Photo courtesy of Viva Technology 2023

President Emmanuel Macron made his annual appearance last week at the Viva Technology mega-conference. He appeared on stage with 4 entrepreneurs who each had a chance to pose one question.

Clearly, Macron was hyped and prime to discuss the subject that was a major theme this year: Artificial Intelligence. In response, to the first question from Mistral AI CEO and Co-Founder Arthur Mensch (this is the mysterious Generative AI company that just raised a €105 million seed round), Macron unspooled a 16-minute response that explained how France intends to support its AI startup ecosystem while also developing new AI regulations.

Here's the English translation. Buckle in.  

Arthur, Mistral AI:

Thank you very much for the invitation, Mr. Chairman. New artificial intelligence methods are set to revolutionize productivity in the workplace. They require huge investments in both hardware and software. In France and Europe, we can't afford to depend too much on our partners for such an important technology. So, I have a question and a comment. How do France and Europe plan to enable the emergence of European champions? And the second is that we'd very much like to see a European champion emerge. We think that regulation is necessary, but we think that today, as the discussions in the European Parliament stand, there is a strong risk that regulation will hamper innovation, and we'd like to know how it can evolve in the right direction.


Thank you very much. You've given me the opportunity to talk about a continent. Five years ago, we launched the first artificial intelligence strategy, based on the report submitted by Cédric Villani…And we decided to invest €1.5 billion. We rolled out this plan and France positioned itself. So, I think we're in a good position in continental Europe. We're a little behind the British, who have managed to have some great champions. On the other hand, it's clear that the United States of America and even China, who are a little behind the Americans today, but the two major leaders are moving much faster than we French and Europeans.

As far as I'm concerned, the priority is really to do things at the same time.

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