Generative AI in public services: the French recipe for ‘at the same time’

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Generative AI in public services: the French recipe for 'at the same time'

The ambition of Mistral AI, a French nugget of generative AI, is to provide an alternative for European companies to the closed models of the American giants by relying on open source for this.

Will the public sector be a prescriber of this alternative? At this stage, France is making the choice of “at the same time” or hybrid by combining both proprietary, to act concretely now, and open source for long-term mastery.

Generate written answers supervised by the human

This approach translates into the launch of an experimental program formalized on October 5 by Stanislas Guerini, the Minister of Transformation and Public Service. This announcement is presented as part of the continuity of the creation of the generative AI committee.

“Artificial intelligence is transforming our relationship to work, in all sectors. The civil service, the largest employer in France, cannot stay away from this technological revolution, at the risk of suffering it,” the ministry argues to justify tests in production.

It is therefore 1000 agents, volunteers, who will be equipped with a market AI tool, in this case a solution developed by the American Anthropic, a competitor of OpenAI. The tool will have the function of helping agents in writing responses to user opinions and comments in their online procedures (via Public Services +).

Technology is not a substitute for agents since the answers generated automatically are under their supervision. “The agents will supervise and modify the response before sending it to the user,” specifies the government.

Anonymized data and an extension to other agents

On the aspect of trust and personal data, the ministry adds that the data are completely anonymized. Promised, “confidentiality is thus completely preserved for the user.”

Another argument in favor of this experimentation and antiphon on AI: more efficiency on certain tasks for agents in order to free up time in favor of tasks with higher value, here “strengthening human contact” between agents and users of public services.

Generative AI targets 1000 professionals at launch. However, the Interministerial Directorate for Public Transformation (DITP) and DINUM are already planning to expand the scope. By the end of the year, the agents of France services houses will also have access to AI “in their support of users at the counter.”

A “sovereign” model being designed

At the same time, “the state must give itself the means to master this technology.”This is the reason why Dinum has been developing its own generative AI solution since June 2023 in the form of a qualified open source “sovereign” model that will be specialized internally.”A fine-tuning phase of the model is thus underway.

“It is by specifying generic models to adapt them to the specificities of agents and users that the best results will be obtained”, justify the IT Department of the State and the ministry of Stanislas Guerini.

To design this sovereign technology, the Dinum teams exploit different open LLMs, including Falcon, XGen and LLaMA. They also indicate studying the Mistral 7B model, recently presented by Mistral AI – which has also started training larger models.

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