AI is the future of French industry

French industry must strengthen itself technologically on machine tools, precision mechanics and robotics. Artificial intelligence can help him meet this challenge.

"The factory of the future will have two employees: a man and a dog. A man to feed the dog, a dog to protect the robots. "This salvo from Carl Bass, Autodesk's CEO, alerts us to the economic impact of the technological-industrial revolution related to artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and home automation.

It must be said that, good or bad in itself, this revolution has a strong anxiety-provoking potential because of the technological glass ceiling it will involve for many careers. For some of our fellow citizens, the future seems to be a mixture of robotics and trans-humanism, a paradise of intelligent machines and a programmed hell for employees.

Without entering into the more or less sterile debate on the current existence or not of strong AI, we can say that more and more jobs will be destroyed and replaced by robots and automatons since the expert programs that are working right now are already destroying thousands of jobs.

But this revolution also has tremendous potential for employment. For PwC, artificial intelligence will add $15.7 trillion to global GDP by 2030, six times the market capitalization of the Gafam. The impact can be broken down into improved labor productivity (6.6 trillion after a stagnation since the beginning of the century) and increased consumption of new goods and services.

Technological strengthening
Faced with this paradigm shift, economists and politicians have been firing on all cylinders when it comes to economic policy recommendations: if taxes on robots or universal technological transition revenues seem premature, other avenues are promising.

First, those that combine this revolution with a proactive industrial effort, with the upscaling of French industry and the lowering of taxes on production (200 billion in France in its broad sense). French industry must strengthen itself technologically in machine tools, precision mechanics and robotics: the current offer, which is struggling to catch up with the level of the Germans or Scandinavians, will be significantly improved by a good command of AI applied to the production chain.

The control of AI is a major challenge in the recovery of our trade balance, because these technologies will not be mastered by all developed countries. In this respect, France lacks opportunities by limiting AI to software while hardware is the centerpiece of AI networks. We must reinvent a French industry articulated between skilled workers and robots and algorithms that will be the first level workers.

Technological transition
Secondly, training and learning must integrate this collaboration between people and robots very quickly: the various existing training credits must include this transition. One avenue, which has not yet been explored, but which could prove particularly promising, would be the introduction of a technological transition training credit for employees in line with technical developments in order to enable them to stay in the race or change fields of activity if there is no longer a human future in them.

The amount of this technological transition training credit would be determined according to the economic sectors, the level of automation achieved and the employee's level of education so that everyone can be at the level of the industrial revolution that is beginning.

Cyrille Dalmont and Sébastien Laye are respectively AI Research Associate and Economics Research Associate at the Thomas More Institute.
Mon Oct 14, 2019
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