Elisabeth Borne is involved in various matters. After the authorization to sell fuel at a loss, there is now the issue of generative artificial intelligence. In order to develop the government’s strategy and not miss out on this technological revolution, the head of the government launched the Interministerial Committee on Generative Artificial Intelligence on Tuesday, confirming the announcement made by Matignon and Bercy at the end of August to rely on a panel of experts. Interestingly, this announcement comes just a few days after media monitoring company Onclusive laid off over 217 employees and replaced them with generative artificial intelligence tools. This serves as a clear example of the potential negative consequences of this technology on the economy.
Orienter la ruée vers l’or
The term generative artificial intelligence has become widely used after the launch of ChatGPT in late November 2022. Since then, optimists like OpenAI and Microsoft see it as the biggest technological revolution since the internet. Naturally, nobody wants to miss out on this opportunity. Companies and governments are rushing to acquire specialized processors from Nvidia to train their own AI models, leading to a significant increase in sales. However, this gold rush comes with a range of social, societal, and ethical questions that are sometimes overlooked due to time constraints. Officials at Bercy are issuing a warning:
« We missed out on the last technological revolution about thirty years ago. We have the opportunity to reshuffle the deck in terms of competition. However, this determination must be accompanied by considerations of social and societal issues, in addition to discussions about technology and its economic consequences. »
The newly formed advisory council comes into play here. It has six months to « facilitate the debate, » « gather opinions, » and help « shape the state’s position » on generative AI. Around the table are about fifteen experts from both the private and public sectors. Among the names mentioned by Matignon are Yann Le Cun, a global star in the field and director of AI at Meta; Joëlle Barral, director of AI research at Google DeepMind; Arthur Mensch, co-founder of the startup Mistral AI; Gaël Varoquaux, a researcher at Inria; and Gilles Babinet, co-chair of the National Digital Council. The group will be led by Anne Bouverot, a board member of several technology companies (Technicolor, Edenred, Ledger…).
Un premier rendu en novembre
At the moment, Matignon refrains from committing to a specific timeline or indicating its expectations, except for the submission of an initial interim report in November. Specifically, the council should produce numerical reports and make recommendations. « Regarding the economic impact of generative artificial intelligence, some figures are starting to circulate, but the government produces too few of them. We must assume this role in order to obtain a more accurate understanding of the situation, » Matignon insists.
The government does not rule out seeking the assistance of sector experts to enhance skills in specific areas that require further exploration, such as culture or justice. This is because a wide range of subjects can benefit from the collaboration of experts, including sovereignty, ethics, intellectual property, and the role of the public sector. While the Prime Minister’s office and the Ministry of Finance lead the interministerial work, over five other ministries, starting with those of research and culture, could be involved.
This government initiative, which looks very promising on paper, comes more than ten months after the launch of ChatGPT, which is a long time in the rapidly evolving field of technology. However, this is not the government’s first action. In June, President Emmanuel Macron presented a new investment program supported by France 2030 and funded with 900 million euros. It focuses on measures to accelerate training, acquire computing capabilities, develop tools in the French language, and provide funding for young startups.