This is new for 2023. The Agglomeration Community of the French Riviera (Carf) is organizing its first innovation fair this Friday, January 27, in partnership with the city of Menton and the Menton Tourist Office, Riviera and Wonders.
Among the headliners of the event, Marco Landi, former global director of Apple and president of the EuropIA institute, will give a conference on the metaverse. The 75-year-old Italian also joined the Department’s “Smart Deal” project in 2018, which aims to turn the Côte d’Azur into an artificial intelligence country.
You are responsible for leading the Department’s digital revolution. You should be glad to have such a show in Menton…
Yes, because the President of the Department, Charles-Ange Ginesi, gave me a specific mission: to go everywhere from Mandelieu to Menton to talk about artificial intelligence and innovation. We have already held very good conferences west of the Alpes-Maritimes, so I am happy to now have the opportunity to go to Menton to discuss these topics.
Why is it so important to talk about it, including to the general public?
First of all, because when we talk about new technologies, especially artificial intelligence, people are afraid. They have seen fantastical movies that have nothing to do with reality, thinking that it is something bad, that we cannot control it and that it will turn against us… We are not only fighting these received ideas, but it should also encourage people’s increased interest in these topics. This is why we created the House of Artificial Intelligence at Sophia Antipolis. The goal is to prepare young people, especially young girls, for artificial intelligence, as there is a shortage of girls entering these fields – only 9% so far. We take college students there to learn about these technologies, benefits, challenges, and more. we bring to present.
Do you think it will be impossible to do without it in the future?
These young people will use artificial intelligence in 2035 or 2040, regardless of the field or profession they will be involved in. And if they don’t know about these new technologies, they will panic. It’s like we don’t know how to use electricity. When electricity was invented, moreover, people were afraid of it, just as they were later afraid of the motor… Innovation always evokes fear because it represents the unknown, but our mission with the Department is to educate the public about the challenges and benefits of these technologies. And to encourage young people to study in this field. If we want to develop our department as well as possible, we need to deal with these new technologies today.
What kind of territory can they serve?
Take the example of Menton. It’s a great city that lives more than tourism, so what better way than using new technologies to attract potential tourists to the city? We can imagine, since we have the opportunity today, to create Menton in the metaverse to allow tourists to make their first visit before their real arrival. Imagine also for booking: today we have virtual assistants working 24 hours a day, speaking all languages including sign language, able to provide all information in real time…
You talk about metaverses. It is still an unknown or unclear term for many people, can you give a simple definition?
Metaverse is a virtual world. The idea is to create an experience that is connected to the real world in this digital world. If we take the best hotels in Menton and create them in the metaverse with all their features and services, we get the most effective experience possible to encourage bookings from potential customers. We can also imagine doing this with stores. This is the new way of doing business. We cannot avoid being competitive in areas such as hotels and restaurants. You will have to master these tools.
Aren’t you worried about potential slippages?
It all depends on how people use it. These tools should be at the service of women and men, professions… Of course, there are risks, we can abuse them, we cannot prevent it, but these technologies already exist. Artificial intelligence is used in healthcare and banking. Everyone has Siri, a type of artificial intelligence, on their phone. Look at cryptocurrencies – a completely different technology, blockchain. Now we see that there are abuses, harmful uses, but this form of money exists, we have to deal with it. We cannot ignore it. That’s the challenge of talking about it, preparing the younger generations…
Are projects already planned in the east of the department as part of the smart deal?
That’s the whole point. Let’s talk about these topics to begin with. We will see later how we can continue and develop this in Menton. The goal is primarily to create interest. For example, Mandelieu has a very interesting initiative regarding the metaverse, which they will talk about soon… They are in the process of capturing these technologies. In Cannes, on the occasion of the World IA Contest Festival from February 9 to 11, there are the world’s largest companies in these sectors who come to exchange. We are lucky to have a wonderful university here in the Alps, many researchers, the House of Artificial Intelligence, the EuropIA Institute and a Department ready to project itself to encourage new initiatives. We can position the department as the land of artificial intelligence and train the new talents of the future, develop the business of the future here, in the hotel industry, in culture, in healthcare…