Keep an AI on France #2: Education
Artificial intelligence is becoming a priority for several European governments. While Nordic countries are moving forward on the field, France is also determined to take part in the AI race. Thus, the French government is targeting the root of the field: Education
Mapping the French AI strategy in education
Cedric Villani, French deputy winner of the Fields Medal in 2010, has written an extensive report to define the French strategy in AI. Education is at its heart.
France has already started to explore the utilisation of AI tools to support teaching methods in school. However, the key focus of the strategy is not so much about the introduction of AI tools in education but more about training the next French generation to AI.
Read more: The Villani report
Students are the future of AI
Straight from high school new programs are being tested. At the Lycée Paul Valéry in Paris students are going to be taught the basic principles of maths and statistics for AI as well as how to manipulate commonly used software of the field. Nonetheless, the biggest commitment to education is made at the university level.
French Universities already offers 18 AI master’s for which more than 1,000 students have already signed up. As the ambition is to triple the number of persons trained in AI by 2022, the government want to increase the number of university chairs. By 2022, the objective is to have 190 chairs to welcome 500 PhD students. These chairs will primarily be found in the 3IA (Interdisciplinary Institute for Artificial Intelligence).
Bridging public research and companies
There are going to be 3IA in Grenoble, Nice, Paris and Toulouse. They will gather leading researchers coming from different universities and research centre of the region to enhance findings and innovation. There is also the underlining desired outcome to turn more efficiently research into commercial use. This trail of thought has already been followed by Google and Microsoft. For example, the former finances an AI chair, since 2018, at the university Polytechnique. The latter announced that following the success of its AI training school located near Paris, it will open 9 others across the country.
In overall, the emphasis put on education is to foster research and innovation to better bridge the public findings and their commercial application. The French expertise is growing.