technology

Tech Must Open Up About Algorithms as AI Takes Hold, France’s Macron Says

  • Artificial intelligence ups transparency pressure on companies
  • Data sharing is cornerstone of AI strategy unveiled by Macron

Emmanuel Macron

Photographer: Yorgos Karahalis/Bloomberg

Internet companies need to be more transparent about the technology that runs their networks, especially with the emergence of systems fueled by artificial intelligence, French President Emmanuel Macron said.

“We will increase the collective pressure to make these algorithms transparent,” Macron said in an interview with Wired.

“I’m sure that a lot of startups or labs or initiatives which will emerge in the future, will reach out to their customers and say ‘I allow you to better understand the algorithm we use and the bias or non-bias,’” Macron said. “I’m quite sure that’s one of the next waves coming in AI. I think it will increase the pressure on private players.”

Convincing Europeans to share more data, as well as getting the tech sector to be more open about how that data is used, are key to Macron’s strategy to develop AI at home and catch up to the U.S. and China. Drawing on proposals by mathematician Cedric Villani, Macron in the final days of March rolled out France’s AI road map, highlighting the importance of data sharing, even in the face of Europe’s staunchly defended culture of privacy.

Read more: Math ‘Spiderman’ Is Unlikely Warrior in Macron’s Science Battle

France aims to develop an AI ecosystem around the mobility, defense, health care and fintech industries, Macron said. He told Wired he’d oppose transforming lethal weapons into autonomous objects that wouldn’t require human intervention.

Rules for Cars, Tax

Paris is gaining ground as a European hub for AI research with Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. pledging this year to hire staff and invest in labs.

AI is only one of several battles Macron is fighting to position France to deal with technology disruption. Pushing for regulatory changes in Europe is another, impacting everything from data usage to allowing autonomous cars on open roads, and how and where internet companies pay tax.

Global Internet giants will need to revamp, adding European or national structures as part of their conforming to the regulatory landscape, Macron told Wired. “At a point of time, they will have to create actual legal bodies and incorporate it in Europe, being submitted to these rules,” he said.

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