France-based Orange follows Macron’s AI promise with new jobs and training
Orange said in a statement it supports the French government’s new plan on artificial intelligence (AI), and announced in tandem the acceleration of its own use of AI. The France-based company said it will help train 500 people in the field, and recruit 200 specialists to its own business.
French president Emmanuel Macron said last week his government would invest €1.5 billion ($1.85 billion) in AI research in the period through to 2022, the end of his term in office. The move is an essential part of Macron’s strategy to establish France as a leading technology center and stimulate its economy, and to keep pace with the tech powerhouses of the US and China.
Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière, executive director of innovation, marketing and technology at Orange, commented: “AI is an asset to strengthen our customer promise, develop new innovative products and services, and improve our processes. That’s why we are committed to responsible AI serving our customers and employees.”
Orange announced a training partnership with Microsoft, which will offer 500 people three years’ of training, equivalent to a BAC+3 certificate. Students of the program will be able to claim jobs as AI developers, it said. The company remains committed to training PhD students and researchers in the field, also.
It has already invested in PhD training of 130 AI specialists, including researchers, engineers, developers and specialists, and restated its commitment to recruit more than 200 people by 2020. Its start-up accelerators, banded under the Orange Fabs brand, is also running financing initiatives in the field of AI, including through research institutes participating in the European AI4EU initiative.
Macron’s speech at the AI for Humanity conference in Paris last week was swiftly attended by announcements from various tech firms, which committed investment in AI expertise to France.
Among them, Samsung said it would expand its team of experts in the Paris area from 15 to 50 by the end of the year, and 100 some time after. Fujitsu and Google-owned DeepMind both said they will set-up AI centers in France. Meanwhile, Microsoft said it will invest $30 million over three years in a project, called Impact AI, to address ethical and societal issues associated with AI.
Research company IDC predicted this month that spending on artificial intelligence systems will reach $19.1 billion in 2018, up 54 per cent from last year.