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Shadows and Hopes of Germany's National AI Strategy

Shadows and Hopes of Germany's National AI Strategy

Shadows and Hopes of Germany's National AI Strategy: Will the Day Come to Compete with the United States and China? : 20th

Germany worked on the development of the AI ​​industry with the "AI National Strategy -AI Made in Germany-", but in the world it is falling behind the United States and China. In the 10th installment of this series (related article: Germany is rated as the top group in the utilization maturity of "7 advanced AI countries", what is the "actual situation" that emerges from local reports? ) introduces the main points from the latest article published in the local media "t3n". The article points out expectations and challenges for the development of Germany's AI industry, based on measures to promote small and medium-sized enterprises and the funding situation of AI ventures.

Government to invest 5 billion euros in AI-related businesses to combat coronavirus recession

In spring 2020, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz announced a large-scale stimulus package to combat the severe economic stagnation caused by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Minister Scholz was nicknamed "Bazooka Man" because of the use of the word "bazooka" to emphasize the scale of the event.)

In the budget bill passed in June of the same year, 5 billion euros (approximately 650 billion yen) was allocated to AI-related projects, and not only researchers but also venture businesses to large companies appreciated the government's large-scale behavior, and expectations were high. increased.

On the other hand, however, there were voices of criticism that even this amount was completely insufficient when compared to other industries and countries. Carsten Kraus, founder of energy company Omikron, points out: “A much larger budget is allocated to hydrogen energy. Research and development of information security is essential for the future development of Germany, but this cannot be advanced without AI. In total, we should invest €5 billion each year instead of €5 billion until 2025.”

In the background of Mr. Claus's point is the situation of huge investment in AI in the United States and China. It is a well-known story that American IT giants called GAFAM, such as Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook, are investing huge amounts in AI. AI ventures are also thriving in the United States, and the US government plans to invest $4 billion annually in AI. This amount does not include military-related AI investments.

In the case of China, several years ago it announced its goal of becoming an AI-advanced country by 2030, and has invested a large amount of public funds in IT ventures to nurture them. In fact, it is unknown how much the total investment amount will be, but there are reports that Tianjin alone has invested 12.8 billion euros (about 1.6 trillion yen) in AI. In the private sector, Internet giant Alibaba Group is reportedly planning to invest 16 billion euros (approximately 2.062 trillion yen).

Academic AI research is world-class, supported by the government

Compared to the situation in the United States and China, Minister Scholz's bazooka gun looks like a toy gun. In terms of funding, Germany's AI promotion policy seems to be completely lacking, but if you change your perspective, you can see that the future of the German AI industry is not abandoned.

Antonio Kruger, Director of the  German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI: Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz, Photo 1 ) points out: “The United States and China have achieved success with AI-based Internet services for end users, but the scope of AI application is not limited to that. is still a large market, and we see opportunities here.”
In the future, it is expected that the German AI industry will grow in the direction that Mr. Kruger mentions. Germany's academic strength is one of the reasons for this.

Germany currently ranks fifth in the world for the number of papers on AI. As of February 2019, there are 75 AI-focused faculties and graduate schools in Germany. Furthermore, AI research is currently not only related to informatics, but also involves other fields.

Law scholars, sociologists and economists have joined the AI ​​research institute, which was jointly established by the Universität Bielefeld and Paderborn Universities  in July 2020 . As a result, it is said that it is considering the practical AI needs of society from various angles from an early stage and drawing a feasible scenario.

The AI ​​strategy announced by the German government in the fall of 2018 advocates strengthening research bases. There are currently 200 professors involved in AI-related research, with plans to add another 100. Thirty of them will be invited from abroad at the expense of the Die Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung, which is under the jurisdiction of the German government .

Besides DFKI, there are 6 competency centers at 5 German universities (Berlin, Dortmund/Bonn, Dresden/Leipzig, Munich, Tübingen) (the University of Berlin has 2). The government had originally planned to contribute €64 million ($83 million) to these centers for education and research from 2019 to 2022, but decided to double that amount in the fall of 2020. The EU will also invest 20 billion euros annually in AI-related fields.

There is also such a movement. In July 2020, the German Bundestag passed the so-called "high salary ban" with the aim of retaining top researchers in state institutions. This stipulates that organizations and companies contracted for development by a national institution must not pay higher salaries for the researchers they employ than those of the national institution that placed the order. This inevitably means that high-paying companies like GAFAM will be barred from German state agency projects.