French press review 3 October 2017

4 min

The French dailies all look to Las Vegas and the worst mass murder in modern US history. While the police search for a motive, the Islamic State armed group claims that the suspect was one of their "soldiers".


The front pages are dominated by yesterday's terrible events in Las Vegas.

Le Monde wonders about the now almost systematic claims of responsibility for all sorts of public atrocities by the Islamic State armed group (IS).

Yesterday, while police investigators struggled to find a motive for the worst mass murder in modern US history, the propaganda arm of the Islamist group was claiming that the attacker was one of their "soldiers" who had answered the call to target citizens of member countries of the international coalition against the terrorists.

A second statement claims the killer was a recent convert to Islam.

Le Monde notes that IS has abandoned the practice of giving video or other "proof" of its involvement in atrocities.

Shock and disbelief worldwide

Right-wing Le Figaro says the Las Vegas killings have created a worldwide shockwave.

According to the French daily, the FBI say there is no reason to associate the killer with any terrorist organisation.

Le Figaro also wonders why there's been no investigation of the possibility that the suspect, Stephen Paddock, was killed by a third party who used his room to carry out the massacre. Paddock booked into the Mandalay Bay hotel last week, without any sign of the dozen or so high-calibre weapons found with his body.

Libération’s main headline simply reads "The shock". The left-leaning daily makes the point that the sort of fully automatic weapon used by the killer, which allows an uninterrupted succession of shots to be fired, has not been legally available to ordinary citizens in the United States since the 1930s.

Are you smart enough for the era of artificial intelligence?

Le Monde looks at the way the veteran US computer seller IBM is preparing for the next technological revolution, the era of artificial intelligence.

We're not talking about the standard domestic assistants like Apple's Siri or Google Home which can give the weather forecast, record a shopping list or turn off your air conditioning.

IBM's target is nothing less than the creation of a new partnership between humanity and technology. To that end, the company is trying to convince professionals in several domains like medicine and the law to use the power of the company's machine Deep Blue, the box of tricks which famously beat Garry Kasparov at chess. In any complicated situation, Deep Blue will do the donkey work, skimming billions of pages of information, leaving skilled human employees more time and energy to analyse the essentials.

The system has already been used to help cancer specialists in New York find the best treatment for individual patients by analysing more data than the average harassed hospital surgeon could manage in three lifetimes.

The French bank Crédit Mutuel is using the system to support human advisors to clients looking for the most profitable investments.

The machine makes no crucial decisions, it simply sifts the mountains of information available and offers a synthesis to the human user.

But sifting already involves a number of crucial decisions. As one anonymous IBM employee quoted by Le Monde observes, if the computer gives you a 15-line résumé of several billion documents, how can you be sure it knows what it's talking about? And that it hasn't missed the one crucial fact in the whole pile? A mere technicality, the article assures us, which the programmers are working on as we speak. The machine is designed to get better at working for you the more it works for you.

Some analysts suggest that this marketing of super-intelligence is going to be worth 60 billion euros by the year 2025.

IBM have baptised their service Watson.

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