No time right now?
Germany and AI? Even more is possible, say experts. Know-how and startups are available, but many entrepreneurs are not willing to take risks. Will the billions from the economic stimulus plan change anything?
With “oomph” against the Corona crisis – Finance Minister Olaf Scholz promised it – and the financial “bazooka” should also catapult Germany’s IT location forward. With the economic stimulus package passed in June, the federal government increased funding for artificial intelligence (AI) from three to five billion euros. This is actually good news for researchers, startups and established companies in the industry. And yet Carsten Kraus can hardly hide his anger about politics.
“That sounds like a lush cornucopia at first,” says the founder of the Company Omikron, which specializes in ki-based search technologies for online trading. “In fact, that’s just a drop in the bucket.” According to the entrepreneur, who was in demand as a keynote speaker, it couldn’t be that more money would flow into a rather singular technology like hydrogen. Although this makes sense, it will never hack a high-security system or heal patients on its own. “Artificial intelligence, on the other hand, will do that,” says Kraus. “And faster than we think.” If the federal government was serious about “unleashing” the economy sustainably, five billion euros would not be necessary by 2025 – but five billion euros a year. At least.
Too late, too little: In the German IT industry, it is almost good form to criticize the federal government’s digital policy. The AI strategy is no exception. “The impetus is not enough to bring us into a league with the USA or China,” says Andreas Liebl, head of the Applied AI initiative, which is docked at the UnternehmerTUM start-up center in Munich, with regard to the economic stimulus package. “Unfortunately, when it comes to AI topics, we are far from being relevant in any way on the world market.”
“Artificial intelligence will hack high security systems and heal patients. And faster than we think. “
Carsten Kraus Founder and CEO of Omikron Data Quality
The sheer numbers can actually be sobering: Currently six of the ten most valuable tech companies that invest huge sums in AI come from the USA – including Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook. The country is also home to most of the AI startups. And the current budget of the White House provides for a doubling of annual AI funding to just under $ 2 billion. The billions in the military’s investment in the field are not yet included.
China, on the other hand, issued a plan three years ago to become the leading AI nation by 2030 – and pepped up its own IT startups with public contracts. Government research spending is not as clearly identifiable as in the US, but it is likely to be substantial. According to a study commissioned by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation by the Think tanks Cambrian.ai The city of Tianjin alone has prepared 12.8 billion euros for AI funding – and the Internet giant Alibaba even up to 16 billion euros. Measured against this, Scholz’s bazooka looks like a toy gun.
And yet: It would be a mistake to lose the international race for future technologies such as machine learning, neural networks, advanced image recognition and the processing of natural language. Because: On closer inspection, Germany is surprisingly well positioned as an AI location in association with other European countries. And future success can hardly be measured solely by the size of government funding.