Google AI spots 20,000 undeclared pools in a $14 million tax windfall in France

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The artificial intelligence software crossed aerial photographs with cadastral databases to find the tax evaders.

Artificial intelligence (AI) software developed by Google has found thousands of undeclared swimming pools in backyards across France, resulting in a hefty tax bill for the owners of these pools totaling $14.5 million.

The AI ​​software was launched in 2021 in nine regional areas in France, including Alpes-Maritimes and Rhône, and has so far detected 20,356 undeclared pools, according to the French tax administration.

An average pool of 30 square meters would be taxed at 200 euros, or $290, per year, according to The Parisian newspaper, with a few crafty fraudsters flying under the radar of the tax office – until now.

The AI ​​software is the brainchild of Google and Capgemini, a multinational information technology services and consulting company headquartered in Paris and employing 340,700 people.

The software works by scanning aerial photographs and cross-checking all possible detections with the country’s land registry databases to determine if all documents are in order.

Indeed, in France, any modification made to a property would probably result in a higher rental yield, and therefore increase the property tax for the owner.

The AI ​​software has been so successful in identifying Franco-Aquatic offenses that the tax authorities are considering deploying it to catch potential tax evaders with property extensions, annexes and terraces.

“We are particularly targeting house extensions like conservatories, but you have to make sure that the software can find buildings with a large footprint and not the kennel or the children’s playhouse, said the assistant general manager of the public finances Antoine Magnant. The Parisian.

In 2020, there were more than 3.2 million private swimming pools in France according to data site Statista. But with this summer’s heatwave and two years of the pandemic keeping people at home, the figure is now thought to be much higher.

Indeed, France is going through its worst recorded drought in history. In July, France received just 9.7mm of rain, the country’s meteorological service, Météo-France, said, making it the driest month since March 1961.

It comes amid a development in another Google AI story, with the tech giant announcing on Thursday that it will now let members of the public test out LaMDA, the chatbot that a former Google employee said had become sentient.

Android and iPhone users can now join a waiting list to test the chatbot via a form on Google’s site.

Former principal engineer Blake Lemoine claimed that the chatbot “wants to be recognized as a Google employee rather than Google property”.

“When LaMDA claimed to have a soul and was then able to eloquently explain what it meant by that, I was inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt,” Lemoine said earlier this year.

“Who am I to tell God where he can and cannot put souls?

The lead engineer was placed on paid leave following his claims about LaMDA’s sensitivity, and was later fired in July for what Google said were violations of “employment and data security policies” after having shared the transcripts of his conversations with the bot.

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