All about AI in this week’s #techaways – it can detect cancer, help the blind, and if Europe follows the French model, the EU could finally pull ahead in the AI race.

Tech Team

Register for #TechAways here.

Can France win the AI race by taking the third way? [FT]

Much has been made of the US vs China dynamic in the global AI race, but could it be France that pulls ahead and wins the contest? Today’s wisdom of AI policy pits the Chinese model of surveillance and state control against the light-touch regulatory model of the US. France is presenting a third option, a middle ground between public and private sector control. The French government is laying out a plan where private organisations can access large sets of data held by state institutions to develop AI, all under public oversight. Could we see Europe taking the lead on AI?

Is taxing data the next EU frontier? [DW]

It’s no secret that Angela Merkel has been a bit hesitant towards the EU’s digital tax proposal, most likely fearing a backlash from the US. Well, the German chancellor is now turning her tax focus towards the same companies, but from a different angle. At a recent conference she raised the topic of tax reform, but not in the way you’d expect. It would seem that she has woken up to the idea of taxing big tech, but through the mechanism of taxing the sale of individuals’ data. In her words, “The pricing of data, especially that of consumers, will in my view be essential to ensure a fair world.” Instead of simply protecting data, she’s asking for innovative ideas on how to tax large tech companies when they make money off of data.

AI can save your skin [The Guardian]

In the EU, 90,000 new cases of melanoma cancer are detected each year. AI can revolutionise the way these cases are identified. A team of German, American and French researchers created an AI system that is able to distinguish dangerous skin lesions from benign ones. The study showed that the machine missed fewer melanomas than dermatologists, with 95% of cancers found compared to 86.6% for the experts. Technology, in tandem with the knowledge of doctors, can enable better detection of melanomas, decreasing the number of annual deaths due to skin cancers.

Sit back and relax, but first insure your drone flight [TechCrunch]

London startup Flock is flying high as it raises £2.25 million in seed funding. The Flock Cover app allows drone pilots to insure flights for at least an hour, like a traditional insurer would do, yet with one big difference: real-time data. By aggregating hyperlocal weather conditions, population density, proximity to high-risk areas, etc., Flock differentiates between high-risk and low-risk customers or flights. “The safer you fly, the less you pay,” Flock CEO Ed Leon Klinger explains. Roughly 1,000 commercial pilots use the app already in the UK – and new research by PwC points to a bright future for Flock, which is only “just getting started.”

Accessible, mainstream AI for the blind [Wall Street Journal]

AI-powered products can help the blind become more independent, with apps and programmes that can do everything from read faces to the labels on cans of soup. However, Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind in the US, says making this technology mainstream is even more important than the products themselves. Current products created to help blind people navigate the world are too expensive to be practical. Riccobono hopes that the more mainstream they go, the cheaper they’ll be. Exciting functions like audio tools and Braille labels inside autonomous vehicles are being rolled out. If more companies follow suit, the blind will be able to live more independently.

#TechAways is brought to you by Cambre’s Technology Practice led by Victoria Main and featuring Fernando AntonFrançois BarryZachery BishopLauren ClarkNicolas GyssAnne-Claude Martin and Simos Piperidis.

Questions, comments or ideas to