Investing in France’s AI Ecosystem

March 29, 2018

Posted by Olivier Bousquet, Principal Engineer, Google Zürich

Recently, we announced the launch of a new AI research team in our Paris office. And today DeepMind has also announced a new AI research presence in Paris. We are excited about expanding Google’s research presence in Europe, which bolsters the efforts of the existing groups in our Zürich and London offices. As strong supporters of academic research, we are also excited to foster collaborations with France’s vibrant academic ecosystem.

Our research teams in Paris will focus on fundamental AI research, as well as important applications of these ideas to areas such as Health, Science or Arts. They will publish and open-source their results to advance the state-of-the-art in core areas such as Deep Learning and Reinforcement Learning.

Our approach to research is based on building a strong connection with the academic community; contributing to training the next generation of scientists and establishing a bridge between academic and industrial research. We believe that both objectives are key to fostering a healthy research ecosystem that will flourish in the long term. These ideas are very much aligned with some of the recommendations that Fields Medalist and member of French Parliament Cédric Villani is putting forward in his report on AI to the French government.

As we expand our teams in France, we have several initiatives that illustrate our commitment to these goals:
  • We are sponsoring “Artificial Intelligence and Visual Computing” Chair at École Polytechnique (one of the leading higher education institutions in France) which will support their education initiatives in AI
  • We just established a partnership with INRIA for conducting collaborative research projects
  • We are funding academic research with unrestricted grants mostly dedicated to the support of PhD and postdoc positions through our Faculty Research Awards and PhD Fellowship programs, as well as our Focused Research Awards. As one example, we have recently funded a project on large scale optimization of neural networks led by Francis Bach (INRIA and ENS) and Alexandre d’Aspremont (CNRS and ENS)
  • We are working on offering CIFRE PhD positions (joint PhD positions between Google and an academic lab) as well as internships for PhD students
Additionally, we are pleased to announce that one of the world’s leading experts in computer vision, Cordelia Schmid, will begin a dual appointment at INRIA and Google Paris. These kind of appointments, together with our Visiting Faculty program, are a great way to share ideas and research challenges, and utilize Google's world-class computing infrastructure to explore new projects at industrial scale.

France has a long tradition of research and educational excellence, and has a very dynamic and active machine learning community. This makes it a great place to pursue our goal of building AI-enabled technologies that can benefit everyone, through fundamental advances in machine learning and related fields.