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Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence Montreal Summit, 3 December 2020

Remarks by President of France Emmanuel Macron

(English translation)


Prime Minister, dear Justin,

Dear members of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence,

Dear friends,

I would like to begin by thanking you for organizing this – virtual – summit, and for your invitation, my dear Justin. It is an opportunity for us to measure the progress made since our successive G7 Presidencies, and this initiative we launched together: the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence.

This year, we have all, all stakeholders, shown a high level of commitment, despite the pandemic. And I would like to thank all those, precisely, who have made this project possible. Canada of course, and all the other founding members: Australia, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States, and the European Union. I would also like to thank all the experts who immediately set to work, after meeting in Paris in October 2019.

Not to mention, of course, all those who keep this initiative going day-to-day: the OECD and the GPAI secretariat, for their operational support, and all those who work in the Centres of Expertise in Paris and Montreal, for their support to the working groups. Thank you also to all the members of the Task Force, who have worked all year to set up our organization.

I would also like to thank the new members elected to the Steering Committee: Italy, Japan and the United States, which will work alongside France and Canada, as well as six non-governmental experts who will take part in our work.

Mastery of artificial intelligence requires progress on two fronts, stressed from the outset as inseparable: innovation and trust. One is impossible without the other, and this week I signed an op-ed along with a number of tech leaders from around the world, launching the “Tech for Good” Call. We were keen to underline that technology has for decades acted as a powerful driver of human progress. And I sincerely believe that technology, artificial intelligence, will bring further progress in all fields, including to address health and environmental challenges. But that requires essential coordination between state and non-state actors. It requires commitments, changes in behaviour, and sometimes regulation too.

We also underlined, and I would like to reiterate this here, that progress is already being obstructed by what are sometimes called negative externalities: mass surveillance, discrimination, cyber crime and disinformation. Every day, we see clear proof that technological progress can lead to in terms of democratic regressions, or of threats to our most fundamental freedoms. Without appropriate safeguards, technology can be used to weaken democracy, and to threaten the universal values enshrined by the United Nations. When you work on algorithmic biases, on bad use of data, on algorithmic governance, you are actually working on preventing and correcting these externalities, and ensure full and total transparency. That work is so essential for us all.

That is why we launched this partnership. To build a fair, transparent, inclusive digital world that is open to diversity, and ultimately to build a digital world that must not replicate everything we are trying to fight in the real world, and which must not contribute to create new biases, new exclusions, and threats on our fundamental freedoms and universal values. A digital world that is respectful of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and that can work for the common good.

We still have a lot of work ahead, we know that. But I can assure you that we will play our full part in this multilateral and multi-stakeholders process. In the coming months, France will work alongside Canada to prepare the transition to our Presidency of the Council. And we will meet again in France next year to take stock of the progress made. Justin Trudeau and I are working hand in hand. And from the outset, we have been keen to work with all the founding members, all those who have joined us, and of course with the members of the Council and the experts, to help structure this ambitious agenda for the artificial intelligence of today and of tomorrow.

So again, thank you, my dear Justin, Prime Minister. Thank you for this impressive and essential work. Thank you for this bond and shared spirit. I look forward to seeing you all in France for the 2021 Plenary and Summit. I wish you good work.