Artificial Intelligence: Inria at the centre of the national debate
Inria plays a key role in the "France Intelligence Artificielle" initiative (#FranceIA) launched on 20 January by Thierry Mandon and Axelle Lemaire. The Institute's participation in the strategic committee and in several working groups confirms its position as an expert on this subject. Meeting with Bertrand Braunschweig.
"Ever since Inria was created 50 years ago, our researchers have always been active in the field of artificial intelligence. And this is a subject that we would like to put in the spotlight. Nothing could prevent us from being involved in this national initiative ", affirms Bertrand Braunschweig, director of the Inria Saclay centre in Île-de-France. On 20 January, Axelle Lemaire, the Secretary of State for Digital Affairs and Thierry Mandon, the Secretary of State for Higher Education and Research, launched #FranceIA. Objective:to bring together all the French entities involved in the field of artificial intelligence, in order to establish an overall national strategy.
Naturally, Inria is taking an active part in these discussions. " This is also part of our mission. We need to inform the decision makers about the potential of the technologies that we are working on and to initiate more discussion about these technologies within society generally " ,states Bertrand Braunschweig.
Artificial intelligence has become a significant area of focus at Inria.
As the only French institute dedicated to the digital sciences, Inria intends essentially to affirm its status as an expert on issues concerning artificial intelligence. A rapidly expanding field."In the last few months, we have received a large number of requests from major French and international industrial groups wanting us to work with them on artificial intelligence technologies. This is a field with enormous social and economic impacts",confirms Bertrand Braunschweig.
Currently, nearly a third of our teams are working directly or indirectly in this area, and AI should play a role in the next scientific strategic plan, which will be finalised in a few months. Furthermore, in November 2016 the institute published a white paper on these questions. This document, produced by Inria's monitoring and forecasting unit, sets out the key challenges raised by artificial intelligence. "At Inria, we have always had teams working on machine learning, optimisation, complex systems, ... We already had a foothold in the field of artificial intelligence. This white paper was an opportunity for us to take our involvement further. Today, this represents a very important area of focus for the institute. "
Inria researchers in half of the working groups
Under the #FranceIA initiative, ten working groups have been formed. Inria researchers and head of project-team are members of nearly half of these groups and are contributing to discussions in areas such as ethics, social issues or primary research in artificial intelligence. Antoine Petit, Chairman of Inria, Jean Ponce(ENS), manager of the Willow project-team, and Bertrand Braunschweig are members of the steering committee. Bertrand Braunschweig is also coordinator of the group about transfer of AI research results to Industry. "For example, we have sent out questionnaires to representatives of the scientific community to find out about work currently being undertaken that could be of interest to manufacturers in the short term. Then we have asked the companies about their requirements. " In mid-March, each of the groups will deliver the results of their work. The objective is to produce a comprehensive overview of the current situation in France and to submit some recommendations.
"In France, we have some of the most renowned researchers in this field. They are also very much in demand,notes Bertrand Braunschweig.Major French companies are showing a great deal of interest in these subjects. In particular, this is the case with car manufacturers who are working on driverless vehicles. " The extensive discussions initiated by the government must allow for the involvement of all of these different entities... And for France to be one of the world leaders in the field of artificial intelligence.