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Meta ‘respects’ regulator decision to pause AI tool in EU as it eyes growth

Meta opened its first European AI research lab, Fundamental AI Research (FAIR), in Paris in 2015
Meta opened its first European AI research lab, Fundamental AI Research (FAIR), in Paris in 2015 Copyright Canva
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By Damon Embling
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Facebook and Instagram owner Meta says there’s a huge opportunity in the “super competitive” artificial intelligence (AI) market, with the tech giant spending up to €37 billion this year on developing infrastructure.


Meta is no stranger to controversy. Last year, it was fined a record €1.2 billion for breaching EU data protection rules.

Now the tech giant has paused the rollout of its AI assistant in Europe, after the Irish Data Protection Commission (IDPC) told Meta to postpone its plan to use data from Facebook and Instagram adult users to train large language models (LLMs). 

“We said, ‘It's sad that is your point of view. We believe it could be a different view, but you are the regulator.’ So, we pause everything and we have postponed some specific tools, what we call Meta AI, for the EU,” Laurent Solly, Vice President (Southern Europe) at Meta, told Euronews Next at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.  

“There is a specific view in the EU, we are discussing, but we respect the decision.”

The regulator move came as Austria privacy organisation NOYB filed complaints with privacy watchdogs in eleven EU member states, alleging Meta’s practices were not compliant with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Describing it as a “step backwards” for European innovation, Meta says it remains highly confident that its approach complies with European laws and regulations

Meta sees ‘huge opportunity’ in AI

AI represents the “biggest commercial opportunity” in today’s economy, according to research from PwC, which predicts that global GDP will be 14 per cent higher in 2030 because of it, the equivalent of an additional €14.6 trillion. 

“This is a super competitive industry,” said Solly, from Meta.

“In Cannes, you saw all the tech platforms, all the tech companies here that are fighting to lead the way. We want to be one of the best companies in AI.”

He continued: “We are spending this year between $35 - 40 billion of CapEx (capital expenditure) to develop our infrastructure and to propose to all our users the best tool. This is the challenge we are facing, but this is also a huge opportunity for us.”

France: an AI epicentre

In 2015, Meta opened its first European AI research lab, Fundamental AI Research (FAIR), in Paris, to advance its development of the technology. 

“We were suddenly the first company to build the biggest AI lab in France,” Solly told Euronews Next.

“For us, it was a huge milestone to have the capacity to have this laboratory in Paris and the capacity to gather lots of talent around that, not only French people. There are a lot of Europeans working on that.” 

“We try really to continue to push, to spread, to open, because we believe that we need a strong AI ecosystem in Europe. We have in Europe, not only in France, talented people.”

Watch the video above to see more from the interview with Meta.

You can see more content from Cannes Lions here.

Video editor • Joanna Adhem

Additional sources • Filmed by Lionel Laval

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