PARIS – Top French politicians told CNBC they see the beginnings of global regulation of artificial intelligence by the end of this year, with French President Emmanuel Macron saying the country wants to work with the US on rules around the fast-growing technology.

The comments come as interest in artificial intelligence, fueled by the rapid growth of chatbot ChatGPT, continues to grow and governments around the world debate how the technology should be regulated.

But there is no global consensus on how artificial intelligence should be governed and controlled, with the US, China and the European Union taking different approaches to rules around the technology. Any global regulatory framework would be a huge feat.

France has sought to become Europe’s hub for AI development, even as the European Union, of which France is a member, is pushing ahead with first-of-its-kind regulation.

Macron, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and Digital Technology Minister Jean-Noel Barrot all spoke to CNBC at the VivaTech conference in Paris on Wednesday and expressed a desire for global AI regulation.

“From my point of view … I think we need regulation and all the players, even the American players, agree. I think we need global regulation,” Macron told CNBC’s Karen Tso on the sidelines of the event.

Barrot said that by the end of the year, “some of the basic principles that we would like for the regulation of artificial intelligence in the G7 and like-minded countries will start to emerge.”

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The G7 includes countries such as France, Germany, the US and the UK The countries agreed this year to create a working group to deal with issues that may arise in relation to artificial intelligence.

Macron said the G7 and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which includes 38 countries, would be a “good platform” to develop global regulation.

why now

French concerns over EU AI law

France’s call for global regulation of artificial intelligence comes as the European Union approaches unprecedented approval a law called the EU AI Act. European Parliament on Wednesday approved the landmark block, which seeks to take a risk-based approach to the regulation of artificial intelligence.

The latest amendments to the law include a tougher stance on so-called generative artificial intelligence, the type of technology behind OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which allows systems to generate images or respond with text to prompts. The regulation states that developers of generative artificial intelligence will have to submit their systems for review before their commercial release.

The law still needs to be approved by other EU bodies.

France, traditionally pro-regulatory, has expressed concern that EU law around AI has gone too far.

“I’m afraid that in the last few weeks the European Parliament … has taken a very strong position on the regulation of artificial intelligence and in a sense it’s using that artificial intelligence as a way to try to solve too many problems at once,” Barrot said of the generative provisions artificial intelligence.

Spotlight on American rivalry and partnership

While the law at the EU level continues to go through the legislative process, France is pushing for regulation on a global scale and sees the US as a key ally.

“Competition is always a good thing. So we work very closely with the US, but we also want to get access to our own intelligence and AI companies,” Le Maire told CNBC on the sidelines of VivaTech.

“When it comes to regulation, I think it’s absolutely necessary to have an in-depth discussion with the US authorities about the best way to regulate artificial intelligence,” he added.

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What do the French want in terms of regulation?

Top French politicians who spoke to CNBC discussed their focus on AI regulation.

“We want to make sure that it’s safe, that it’s unbiased … that the language models that we have are not biased and that what’s … forbidden in society is forbidden in this model. So we need some rules,” he said Macron.

Artificial intelligence like ChatGPT is trained on huge amounts of data called large language models, which enable it to understand human speech and respond. However, there are concerns that the data it is trained on could cause the system to inherit biases.

Macron also said that if you watch a video or look at a photo created by artificial intelligence, the user has the right to know.

Finally, French politicians are considering regulation that balances the need to protect technology users without stifling innovation.

“What we want is a regulation that offers both protection for users … and that creates confidence, but is also flexible enough to allow developments in the next few weeks, few months in France and Europe,” Barrot said.

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