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Friday, October 19, 2018

CEIBS Co-hosts Forum on Economic Transformation in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

October 19, 2018. Paris – The opportunities for Chinese and French enterprises to collaborate in the increasingly important field of artificial intelligence was the topic of discussion at today’s China-France Investment Dialogue. French Member of Parliament Cédric Villani, who drafted France’s national AI strategy, was among the more than 300 participants at the event. Mostly business executives from both countries, they explored the French and Chinese approaches to AI, potential areas of collaboration, and discussed AI’s role in and impact on the field of medicine. The event, co-organised with CCI French-Chinese Exchange Committee Paris Île-de-France and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in France, is part of the wider CEIBS Insights 2018 initiative.

It is also in keeping with the groundwork laid, in January during French President Emmanuel Macron's first state visit to China, for both countries to work together on AI. During the talks back then, both countries explicitly listed innovation cooperation around AI as one of the most important areas where they would work together.

In her opening speech at today’s Paris forum, Minister-Counsellor (Commercial), Chinese Embassy to France, Ms. Gao Yuanyuan reiterated this commitment. “AI is the core driving force behind the new round of industrial revolution. Both French and Chinese leaders attach great importance to the development of AI, and have agreed on firm and broad grounds of cooperation in this field. Based on a mutually beneficial partnership, France and China can complement and move forward together in AI development while Chinese and French companies can work together to enjoy the fruits of this irreversible process for the benefit of humankind,” she told the audience.

Minister-Counsellor (Commercial), Chinese Embassy to France, Ms. Gao Yuanyuan

The emergence of new technologies is revolutionizing global consumption patterns and the way companies operate. China has been impressive in the development of its innovative ecosystem, producing globally known companies such as Baidu, Tencent, Huawei and Xiaomi. Many key areas of Chinese society, ranging from consumption to leisure, health to logistics have been transformed by digital technology. Meanwhile in France, the focus the issue has received from the Macron presidency and proposals of the Villani report have put artificial intelligence squarely at the forefront of many conversations.

During today’s first panel discussion, which provided concrete suggestions on potential areas of collaboration between Chinese and French companies, Villani spoke of the shared vision of France and China in making far-reaching advancement in AI. “I am able to see the development of AI and all the other developments between the two countries,” he said. “France is among the leading nations in the field of AI research and practice. We are seeing rapid scientific progress in developing AI in China, which impresses the world with a group of emerging giants in the field. There are indeed a great number of opportunities for collaboration, especially as political tension steps up among major players internationally, whereas France and China share a futuristic vision of progress.”

French Member of Parliament Cédric Villani, who drafted France’s national AI strategy.

The forum is one of five being hosted by CEIBS, China’s leading international business school, with partners across Europe. The CEIBS Insights 2018 initiative was launched to mark the 15th anniversary of the China-EU Comprehensive Strategic Partnership by observing the role that CEIBS has played and continues to play in fostering Sino-European ties. Prior to the Paris event, CEIBS hosted forums in Munich (July 17), London (July 19) and Prague (September 25).

As CEIBS Vice President & Dean Ding Yuan explained in his opening address at today’s event, multilateral cooperation at all levels is the cornerstone and commitment of CEIBS as a leading international business school. “Co-hosting this event is a privileged moment for us. It bears testimony to our commitment to the advances and welfare of mankind,” he said. “Our school began as a bold and experimental project between Europe and China. We are proud of the outstanding outcomes this institute has brought about in the last 24 years. The Franco-Chinese investment dialogue is another dynamic example of our long-standing commitment.”

CEIBS Vice President & Dean Ding Yuan

In his address, Mr. Shi Weiliang, Vice President of Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie de Chine en France (CCICF) and General Manager of Huawei France explained that AI is one of the primary focuses of the CCCI, where new levels of collaboration are taking place between France and China. He pledged that the CCCI and its more than 130 corporate members would work to further enhance the Sino-France partnership.

Mr. Shi Weiliang, Vice President of Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie de Chine en France (CCICF) and General Manager of Huawei France

Meanwhile, the significance of leadership in the future of AI was raised by Mr. Frank Margain President of Paris Région Entreprises who commented on the inclusiveness of AI and the challenges on the horizon facing players in the field. He stressed that AI will engage a wider array of interconnected sectors from healthcare, mobility, security, to employment. “With AI more and more integrated into the fabrics of our lives, it is difficult to define in terms of expert industries. Over 100 of our corporate candidates are from abroad, a large part of which is from China,” he said. “From 2015 to 2017, 68 Chinese companies created over 900 jobs in the region. China is playing an increasingly significant role in forging partnerships of industrial innovation and solutions. In terms of the shared cultural perspective and economic scales, many opportunities await to bring value to both sides.”  

Mr. Frank Margain President of Paris Région Entreprises

Two groups of speakers then brought different perspectives to the topic of how the Chinese and French approach AI, and how they can potentially collaborate. The first group discussed how to be more strategic in collaboration based on a firm foundation of mutual trust and understanding. There appeared to be a general consensus that collaboration is predicated on trust; AI depends on trust-based relationships between research experts and industry players; and science and technology is not the most difficult part, rather it is the human aspect that poses the biggest hurdle, for example when it comes to doing challenging things together. Panellists for this first discussion included Mrs. Patricia Barbizet, President of Temaris & Associés, Vice President of the Board of Kering; Mr. Florent Courau, General Manager, France, JD.com; and M. Ludovic Bodin, Partner of Kalibrio Capital, Ambassador Delegate for International Investments Hub France IA, Co-Founder FrenchTech Beijing.

The second group included Mr. Qunkai Liu, Head of France, Southern Europe and Israel, Alibaba Cloud International; Mr. André Loesekrug-Pietri, Spokesperson, Joint European Disruptive Initiative (JEDI); and Mr. Girish Nadkarni, President of Total Energy Ventures. Scale and the human brain were the two keywords throughout their exchange of ideas. The discussion revolved around how China and France can harness the AI industry in a larger deployment of technology and human resources, and help their companies scale up in global competition.

“AI is used for more than selling iPhones within 10 minutes. The huge amount of data generated from daily activities is largely untapped terrain. Can we use them more productively? Can we interpret the data and leverage them to the next level?” asked Girish Nadkarni. He also stressed the vitality of research from the bottom up. “It’s not just to produce the best AI scientists for global companies, but to establish the industry’s own big data AI companies,” he said.

The day’s second panel discussion focused on AI in the field of medicine and began with Mr. David Gruson, Member of the Board of Directors of the SciencePo Paris / IA Ethik Initiative Health Chair laying the framework for the discussion that followed. “A great potential for dialogue lies in the shared social issues like aging and the complementary nature of the two countries in terms of research, economy, and culture,” he said. “Human-guaranteed AI, instead of hard law and regulation, will provide a better approach to the various challenges facing us.” The panellists then shared their views on application of AI in medical research and training, the balance between privacy and openness, between personal and collective interests, and the role of ethics and regulation. Speakers included Mr. Xavier Colonna, CEO of JP COLONNA; Mr Patrice Cristofini, Founder and President of CEPS eHealth Club, Center for Prospective and Strategic Studies; Mr. Jia Li, Co-founder and CSO at Cardiologs Technologies; and Mr. Wang Jun, Founder of iCarbonX.

After concluding remarks and a summary of the day’s event by Mr. Buon Tan, President of the France-China Friendship Group of the National Assembly and Mr. Jean-Claude Karpeles, Delegate of the President of the Paris Ile-de-France CCI in charge of international business development and European affairs, there was a Social Responsibility Awards Ceremony followed by cocktails and networking. The next event in the CEIBS Insights Europe Forum 2018 series will be held in Zurich on October 24.

China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) is among the top international business schools in Asia, where it is the only one to have simultaneously made it to the Financial Times’ top 30 list of MBA, EMBA, and Executive Education programmes.

CEIBS has more than 20,000 alumni from more than 80 countries worldwide, and has provided a broad range of management programmes for more than 150,000 executives both at home and abroad. CEIBS’ faculty team is uniquely equipped to deliver a combination of China Depth and Global Breadth in both teaching and research.

CEIBS has campuses in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Zurich, and Accra.