This article was originally published as a TechRepublic cover story. The elegant Hôtel de Ville--the center of politics in Paris for nearly 700 years--has witnessed plenty of fancy receptions. But tonight's event is among the more unusual that the opulent Renaissance city hall has hosted. Above soars a ceiling crammed with gilt decoration and paintings, separated by the words liberté, égalité, fraternité, plus half a dozen blazing chandeliers. The crowd--with as many dressed in hoodies and trainers as there are in suits and ties--are munching on crickets along with more standard canapés.
PARIS (Reuters) - The French government aims to broaden its powers to block foreign takeovers of French companies deemed as strategic, to also include firms involved in data protection and artificial intelligence ('AI'), the finance minister said on Friday. Bruno Le Maire said he wanted the two sectors to be added to a 2014 decree requiring foreign companies to get permission from the French state before taking control of firms in the energy, telecoms, transport, water and the health industries. "I think that when you look at current economic trends, there's a certain number of sectors that could be added to this decree," Le Maire said on BFM TV. "I'm thinking of everything dealing with personal data. Do we really want investors to market our data?
In December 2017, two years after the Paris climate accord was adopted, French President Emmanuel Macron led government, business and civic leaders in a conference called The One Planet Summit. President Trump, who earlier in the year announced his commitment to withdraw the U.S. from the historic climate accord, was not invited. At this event, Microsoft's President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith announced the company would be committing $50 million over the following five years as part of a new strategy to provide access to artificial intelligence (AI) for groups and people who want to use it for the good for the planet. Microsoft's AI for Earth, a program with the goal of using AI to address environmental challenges, launched six months before this announcement. "Fundamentally, AI can accelerate our ability to observe environmental systems and how they are changing at a global scale, convert the data into useful information and apply that information to take concrete steps to better manage our natural resources," Smith writes in a related post on the Microsoft website.
In addition, the Internet Society was asked to send written comments, which are reprinted here. AI is not new, nor is it magic. "Intelligent" technology is already everywhere – such as spam filters or systems used by banks to monitor unusual activity and detect fraud – and it has been for some time. What is new and creating a lot of interest from governments stems from recent successes in a subfield of AI known as "machine learning," which has spurred the rapid deployment of AI into new fields and applications. It is the result of a potent mix of data availability, increased computer power and algorithmic innovation that, if well harnessed, could double economic growth rates by 2035.
In the 2016 election, it's claimed that Pro-Trump bots infiltrated Twitter hashtags and Facebook pages used by Hillary Clinton supporters to spread automated content. Bots were also deployed at a crucial point in the 2017 French presidential election, throwing out a deluge of leaked emails, from candidate Emmanuel Macron's campaign team on Facebook and Twitter. The information dump also contained what Macron says was false information about his financial dealings. The aim of #MacronLeaks was to build a narrative that Macron was a fraud and a hypocrite – a common tactic used by bots to push trending topics and dominate social feeds.
When science fiction writers first imagined robot invasions, the idea was that bots would become smart and powerful enough to take over the world by force, whether on their own or as directed by some evildoer. Twitter is particularly distorted by its millions of robot accounts; during the French election, it was principally Twitter robots who were trying to make #MacronLeaks into a scandal. This time, someone with an agenda but no actual public support unleashed robots who impersonated (via stolen identities) hundreds of thousands of people, flooding the system with fake comments against federal net neutrality rules. To be sure, today's impersonation-bots are different from the robots imagined in science fiction: They aren't sentient, don't carry weapons and don't have physical bodies.
The plan was the beginning of a national effort to prepare Americans for a future with AI--a future some computer scientist believe our nation is ill-equipped to handle. Using research and concepts from several AI experts including Mark Stehlik of Carnegie Mellon and Rand Hindi of Snips, EdSurge put together the following three-step list educators can use to start implementing AI education in schools. Dr. Rand Hindi, CEO of Snips (a machine learning device company), is part of a research group working with the French government to prepare their country for AI. For Stehlik, the onus is on technology companies and higher education institutions to prepare K-12 teachers for AI instruction by providing them with curriculums, capacity and continuing education opportunities.
US ride services company Lyft and Google parent Alphabet's self-driving car unit Waymo have launched a self-driving vehicle partnership, bringing together two rivals to dominant ride-sharing service Uber. On Monday, a company that claims to make the world's first folding bike helmet announced that the tennis pro was one of more than 400 individuals who had helped it raise nearly £700,000 on crowdfunding platform Seedrs. The euro hit a six-month high against the dollar on Monday and US stock futures briefly touched a record high after Emmanuel Macron won the French presidential election, easily beating anti-EU rival Marine le Pen. The pound surged against the dollar on Tuesday to its highest level since last December after Prime Minister Theresa May said she wanted a general election on 8 June.