Google Opens New AI Research Center in Paris to Train 100,000 Professionals

Google inaugurates a new AI research and development center in Paris, aiming to gather over 300 researchers and engineers. This initiative not only strengthens Paris's position in the AI field but also highlights Google's commitment to fostering academic partnerships and training 100,000 French professionals in AI by the end of 2025. The center's establishment is part of a broader effort to advance AI technology and address crucial issues like online misinformation.

Google inaugurated its new artificial intelligence (AI) research and development center in Paris on Thursday. This center will bring together more than 300 researchers and engineers. It's a significant step forward for AI in Paris, attracting numerous major technology companies.

Strengthening AI Presence in Paris

[On Thursday, Google opened its new AI research and development center, attended by CEO Sundar Pichai, Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire, and Secretary of State for Digital Affairs, Marina Ferrari. Following an initial establishment in Paris in 2018, Google will now bring together over 300 researchers and engineers in this new "hub" to contribute to the development of its products, including YouTube and the Chrome browser. According to Sundar Pichai, the center's mission is to "foster new academic partnerships" and train professionals in this technology.

"The hub will enable cooperation with these institutions to stimulate fundamental and applied AI research, thus strengthening France's position as a leader in this field," Google stated in a press release, aiming to train 100,000 French professionals in AI tools by the end of 2025.

In parallel with this inauguration, Sundar Pichai was received at the Elysée Palace by President Emmanuel Macron, who "reiterated his vision for artificial intelligence, where innovation should advance our economies and contribute to the common good, within a framework that protects citizens' rights." They also discussed "online misinformation, a crucial issue, particularly in this electoral year for many democracies."

A Technological Race

The internet search giant is thus maintaining good relations with the French executive while stepping up in AI to face fierce competition. The meteoric success of ChatGPT has given OpenAI a head start over competitors caught off-guard, skyrocketing its valuation to over $80 billion.

But OpenAI hasn't won the match yet. The competition, consisting of a handful of companies, didn't sit idle in 2023 and began to catch up. Google, with its prestigious Google Deepmind research lab, and a handful of well-funded startups, which raised at least half a billion dollars each in 2023, are in the running. Among them, Anthropic (supported by Amazon and Google), Cohere, and Inflection AI are competing in the United States, while Mistral AI (France) and Aleph Alpha (Germany) are making strides in Europe.

If 2023 was the year of exploring the technology, 2024 might be the year of performance competition. A fundamental problem remains: no metric or benchmark currently suffices to attest to the superiority of one AI model over another.

Paris Attracts AI Giants

In this recent AI race, Paris emerges as a prime location for companies. "France has significant advantages in the scientific field, with its 500,000 researchers and leading institutions such as the CNRS, Inria, Paris Saclay, the Curie Institute, and PSL University (Paris Sciences & Lettres)," Google added in its press release.

Indeed, Google is not the only major tech name to invest in an R&D center in France. In 2015, Facebook opened its large FAIR (Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research) laboratory, led by French researcher Yann Le Cun, a Meta expert and pioneer of "machine learning" that founded modern AI, being its first of this kind outside the United States. Japanese Fujitsu, Korean Samsung, and American IBM have also opened research centers in the French capital.

"In a few years, we have managed to create several interdisciplinary research institutes, research chairs, double the number of AI graduates, and increase by 500 the number of PhD students," French President Emmanuel Macron boasted in November, during the launch of the Kyutai laboratory, supported by Xavier Niel (Iliad) and Rodolphe Saadé (CMA-CGM, owner of La Tribune) and also based in Paris.

With a budget of 300 million euros, this "non-profit" laboratory is dedicated to open-source research, with the ambition, for example, of creating its own language model, thanks to a group of researchers who have previously worked for major tech players like Facebook, Google, or Apple.

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