Data and artificial intelligence: new perspectives for customers and society

 

This revolution in terms of AI and data that is currently underway gives us the power to focus on what is essential and to better anticipate the future, while simplifying and improving our daily lives. In the health sector specifically, AI is used to discern potential precursor signs of disease that might not yet be visible to the naked eye.

To help us better understand our environment, AI has the potential to reliably and dynamically map the state of the climate or of a particular animal species, for instance.

To give an example from another sector, AI is paving the way for the development of autonomous vehicles, which will radically transform the way we travel.
With respect to companies and their specific requirements, AI is the key to handling the complexity of the markets better, for example through increased information processing speeds, the optimisation and automation of business processes, or a dynamic, tailored offering.

However, just as the Internet revolution began 25 years ago, the implementation of this large-scale revolution will be complex and time-consuming. At Orange, we believe that this revolution needs to be supported if it is to be responsible, respectful and useful for human beings.

 

But… what exactly is AI?

Artificial intelligence refers to the set of technologies that enable machines to try to reproduce and automate certain tasks that currently can only be achieved with human intelligence. So, in order to equip a machine with certain human capabilities such as language comprehension, sensory capacities or the ability to make a decision from a number of possible choices, AI applies technologies such as speech recognition, automated learning and computer vision. However, AI also has many limitations and the prospect of “hard” AI (that is as generalised and versatile as human intelligence) remains a long way off.

 

 

Commiting to ethical AI

We’re committed to limiting and controlling the risks associated with AI by paying particular attention to data governance. We do everything we can to configure algorithms that limit bias and errors, especially when the results are used to help people make decisions. We constantly analyse the risks and oversee all processes to enable human intervention if necessary.

Not only does AI enable us to research, test and reduce the energy consumption of our infrastructure, we’re actually developing more energy-efficient AI techniques and computation systems. What’s more, we’re supporting a wide range of initiatives to promote an ethical and rational use of AI and data, such as our collaboration with the Impact IA think tank, which was created in 2018 with Microsoft and other French partners, as well as the International Charter for Inclusive AI set up by the Arborus fund, signed in April 2020. 

Orange is also one of 52 independent experts representing academia, industry and civil society that is part of the European Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence (HLEG AI), setting standards for the ethical development and use of AI.

 

Supporting “soft” and ethical AI

We are committed to limiting and controlling the risks associated with AI by placing particular focus on data governance. We are setting parameters for algorithms in the best way possible in order to limit bias and error, particularly where the results are used by humans to inform their decision-making, or for automated decision-making. We are constantly analysing the risks and are implementing monitoring systems, allowing AI to improve itself and humans to adjust these parameters if necessary.

We are actively conducting experiments and research into how AI can be used to optimise and reduce energy consumption across our infrastructure. We are also developing AI that has less processing power and is therefore less energy intensive. We support initiatives that promote the ethical and sensible use of AI and data, such as the Impact AI think tank – founded in 2018 and supported by Microsoft and other players in the French digital ecosystem – and the “International Charter for inclusive Artificial Intelligence” from the Arborus Fund, signed in April 2020.

We have also contributed to the work of the High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence, appointed by the European Commission.

 

AI: central to our goals

Orange’s new strategic plan, Engage 2025, puts AI and data at the heart of its innovation model. Our ambition is to make Orange a data-driven company, with the aim of increasing our agility and performance whilst enhancing our social and environmental leadership. To do this, we are developing programmes in three main areas:

Making our networks smarter:

network virtualisation and automation; intelligent management of network resources to ensure that they are optimally allocated while maintaining service quality; failure prediction and predictive maintenance on network equipment, etc.

Improving our operational efficiency:

fighting against fraud through the implementation of monitoring solutions capable of using AI to detect suspicious and/or fraudulent behaviour on our mobile or fixed networks and in our banking services, detecting abnormal electricity consumption on the  

Reinventing the customer experience:

combining the best of the digital and human worlds to create a genuine “augmented customer experience” based on an omni-channel, fluid, simple and personalised relationship, both in respect of the services we offer and the customer journey.

 

 

Patents in the AI ​​field

 

10+ years

Orange’s experience in AI research, including a doctoral programme for training researchers at the very highest level

500

patents already filed relating to AI and Big Data

 

Providing valuable services while using data responsibly

In the field of business services, we are supporting our customers in the implementation of IA and data solutions to enable them to become more agile and efficient. Orange Business Services (OBS) offers solutions designed to transform the customer experience (e.g. chatbots, data mining for call centres, etc.), improve business processes (e.g. predictive maintenance, computer vision for quality control, etc.), protect information systems (e.g. problem detection and troubleshooting, cybersecurity, etc.) and implement responsible management and data governance.

 

Working within ecosytems

For many years, Orange has been committed to developing AI and data technologies and skills. Not only have we made ongoing investments in the French and European R&D ecosystem, we have also joined forces with numerous start-ups and large industrial groups alike:  

  • Funding research carried out by public institutions and research institutions such as SystemX and B<>Com.
     
  • Participation in the European AI4EU initiative and HLEG AI.
     
  • Collaboration with four Interdisciplinary AI Institutes (3IA) set up by the French government in 2018. 
     
  • Strategic R&D agreement with NTT to pool the results of research in several key areas including 5G, AI, IoT and cybersecurity.

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