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Microsoft increases focus on ethics and trust in AI, begins with $30 million investment in France

After opening an innovative AI school at its Paris-based offices earlier this month, Microsoft France announced today its plans to invest $30 million over the next three years to encourage the emergence of local AI champions. The investment will take the form of two different programs, “AI Impact” and “AI Skills.”

The first one will bring together select Microsoft customers and partners that will contribute to the development of ethical and trusted AI projects in the country. “We are convinced that France has major strengths to actively contribute to the development of Artificial Intelligence technologies in the respect and interest of humans,” said Carlo Purassanta, President of Microsoft France today.

As for the “AI Skills” program, its goal will be to address the growing need for AI skills in the French job market. To that end, Microsoft France will launch a national training programme to help 400,000 citizens learn digital skills over the next three years. Microsoft France will also work with LinkedIn to create a detailed map of France’s AI skillset.

Artificial Intelligence definitely seems to be a big focus for Microsoft this year, and the company is taking its role as an AI leader very seriously. “As we make technological progress we need to ensure that we are doing so responsibly,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella today in an email announcing a major internal shakeup as well as the creation of an AI and Ethics in Engineering and Research (AETHER) Committee. “AETHER will ensure our AI platform and experience efforts are deeply grounded within Microsoft’s core values and principles and benefit the broader society,” Nadella said today.

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Do you think tech companies have a role to play for encouraging the development of ethical and trusted AI?