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French Minister of the Armed Forces at École Polytechnique to boost AI in Defense

The French Minister of the Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu, announced at École polytechnique the creation as early as summer 2024 of a new Ministerial Agency for Artificial Intelligence in Defense (MAAID). The agency's research center will be located on Ecole Polytechnique’s campus. The minister also reiterated the importance of the military status of École Polytechnique’s cadets, and underlined the importance of the resources allocated to École polytechnique by the Ministry of the Armed Forces.
French Minister of the Armed Forces at École Polytechnique to boost AI in Defense
09 Mar. 2024

Sébastien Lecornu, the French Minister of the Armed Forces, has called on Polytechnique engineering students and École Polytechnique researchers to play their full part in the deployment of the new Ministerial Agency for Artificial Intelligence in Defense MAAID), which would be launched in the summer of 2024, he said during an arms ceremony at École Polytechnique.

Addressing the Polytechnique cadets, the Minister declared: "The technological leap represented by artificial intelligence is undoubtedly the one that will revolutionize the way we wage war or even, more importantly, avoid it, like the atom in its time."

"Just as the French Atomic Energy Commission was created in 1945 by General de Gaulle to initiate our policy of [nuclear] deterrence, the mission of the Ministerial Agency for Artificial Intelligence in Defense is to enable France to master this technology sovereignly so as not to depend on other powers," continued Sébastien Lecornu.

Headed by Bertrand Rondepierre (X2010) and with an annual budget of 300 millions euros, the MAAID's development and production facilities will be located in Bruz, near Rennes in Brittany, while its research facilities will be located on the École Polytechnique campus.

Before presiding over the parade of Polytechnique cadets from the X21 and X22 classes, Sébastien Lecornu met with artificial intelligence researchers from École Polytechnique and other Schools of the Institut Polytechnique de Paris (IP Paris), of which École Polytechnique is a founding member.

École polytechnique, as part of IP Paris, is fully involved in the development of the interdisciplinary Center for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Hi! Paris, launched in September 2020, in collaboration with HEC Paris.

By 2025, the MMAID will have its own "secret defense" supercomputer dedicated to AI, and will be recruiting 300 French engineers and researchers specializing in this field.

"I expect each and every one of you to take part in the strategic adventure that will begin this summer, when a community of researchers and pioneers in artificial intelligence will give France the means to ensure its independence and technological credibility for years to come," said Sébastien Lecornu.


On his second visit to École Polytechnique  since becoming head of the Ministry of the Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu also emphasized the significance of the military status of polytechnic engineering students. 

"Because you wear the uniform today, you will carry a lifelong responsibility to the country. And France faces many challenges," he said, referring to a context of uncertainty and multiple crises.

"Sébastien Lecornu continued: "Faced with the technological leaps represented by the cyber threat, the challenges to be met in space, the seabed, quantum computing and, of course, artificial intelligence, we have made the choice to invest, to transform our industrial apparatus and, of course, your School. 

In particular, he recalled that he had proposed, as part of the Law on Military Programming, to allocate substantial resources to École Polytechnique : one billion euros over the next seven years.

"If France is investing so much in your School, and therefore in you, it's because it's counting on you to meet the technological challenges I've just mentioned," said Sébastien Lecornu. 

In her introduction to a more informal exchange between the Minister and the cadets, École Polytechnique's Director General and Acting President, Engineer General Laura Chaubard, emphasized the strengthening of ties between École Polytechnique, a world-renowned center of scientific excellence, and the Armed Forces.

"Under your impetus and that of the Délégué Général à l'Armement, École Polytechnique has considerably strengthened its ties with our Armed Forces," she said, addressing the Minister. 

"In terms of research, with the very strong impetus provided by the creation of the Centre Interdisciplinaire d'Études pour la Défense et la Sécurité (CIEDS) within the IP Paris perimeter in 2021, and today with the establishment of the MAAID academic cluster on our campus.

"In terms of training too, with the reintroduction this year of a compulsory course for all engineers on defense and security issues. The School is strengthening all its courses on technologies essential to our defense, including AI, cybersecurity, quantum computing and nuclear technologies", said Laura Chaubard.

"Strengthening ties also means multiplying the opportunities for contact and collaboration between our students and our Armed Forces throughout their studies, internships and student activities," she added-on.

"Last but not least, it means providing our students with a human and military education that instills in them the values of the defense community: a sense of effort, of surpassing oneself, of the strength of a collective that they must learn to unite, to guide and, quite simply, to serve.

This dual scientific and military identity, both carried to the highest standards, is what sets this School apart," concluded Laura Chaubard, recalling the School's motto: "Pour la Patrie, les Sciences et la Gloire" ("For the Nation, for Sciences and for Glory").