Artificial intelligence is changing the world. There is no doubt about it. Self-learning algorithms are now being developed all over the world and an increasing number of economies are focusing on promoting AI development at a domestic level. Machine learning benefits mankind all over the world – individual countries profit from it. But what is the current status of artificial intelligence in Germany? Can German AI development compete on an international level? And what about state subsidies?
The Federal Government sets AI goals
Politicians in Germany have long recognized the potential of AI for the future. After all, artificial intelligence has made its way into the Federal Cabinet. The official AI-Strategy of the Federal Government has three goals:
Germany and Europe shall become leading AI locations.
AI will be oriented towards the common good.
The development of AI will be conducted within a “broad social dialogue”.
To ensure that the demands of the Federal Government are not left unresolved, the first measures have already been adopted. These include:
100 new AI professorships,
the development of a Franco-German research and innovation network,
the foundation of the Agentur für Sprunginnovationen (SPRIN) in autumn 2019.
Building on the success of the founding fathers
The establishment of the Agentur für Sprunginnovationen is a good example of the vision behind government AI funding. The website of SPRIN-D mentions German innovations of the late 19th and early 20th century. Quite right, you have not misread, it concerns the turn of the century before last one. It refers to the revolutionary inventions that originated in Germany some 100 years ago, for example: automobiles, radios, audio tapes and television.
This is where the Federal Government would like to take up where it left off. In addition, the fact that more recent inventions are primarily linked to artificial intelligence has also been acknowledged by the Federal Chancellor and her ministers.
This map shows the number of users, providers and development projects in Germany, and reveals major regional differences. Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, NRW and Berlin are the forerunners, while Saxony-Anhalt, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Schleswig-Holstein are at the bottom of the list.
Is Germany on a good path?
Despite regional differences, the overall development is positive. What are the successful achievements of AI in Germany? The Federal Ministry of Education and Research presents impressive numbers:
58 percent of all patent applications related to autonomous driving come from Germany.
As a destination country for highly qualified digital professionals, Germany ranks second after the USA – making it the most popular non-English-speaking location worldwide.
In 2019, there were over 200 start-ups in the AI sector in Germany. Berlin and Munich are by far the most popular locations.
Germany ranks fifth worldwide in terms of the number of publications on the topic of artificial intelligence.
There are still difficulties regarding the implementation of AI solutions in German companies. Innovative ideas are confronted with many obstacles. A lack of acceptance is probably the least of these problems, as developments here are moving in a clearly AI-friendly direction: the acceptance of artificial intelligence in society is growing. This development is undoubtedly based on the initial experiences that Germans make in their everyday lives. Nowadays, it is not unusual to communicate with an artificial application on an information page or during a service call. First-hand benefits stifle prejudices. Expressed in numbers:
In 2018, only 58 percent of Germans could imagine “communicating with artificial intelligence”.
A year later, the figure had risen to 83 percent.
As a result, large, medium-sized and small companies tend to see problems in the application and development of artificial intelligence due to the complexity of the algorithms, data security and communication between people and machines.
To ensure that AI development in Germany is not hindered by these hurdles, the state will provide a significant amount of money. In 2019, 500 million euros were allocated for this purpose:
230 million for the transfer of AI into applications,
190 million for research and promotion of young scientists,
55 million for social dialogue on AI, but also for the promotion of company training measures.
In order to cushion the economic losses caused by the Corona lockdown, the German government adopted a so-called “future package” in June 2020, which dwarfs these figures. The economic stimulus package will channel 50 billion euros into future technologies. In addition to hydrogen economy and quantum technology, this explicitly includes the development of artificial intelligence. Corona is supposed to help AI to get off the ground.
Artificial intelligence is on the rise – also in Germany. In particular its acceptance on the customer side is growing. Companies are increasingly recognizing the opportunities for improving production, reducing operating costs and enhancing the customer experience. And if Germany takes advantage of the opportunity to rethink its approach, which has resulted from the Corona crisis, the country really has the potential to become an international pioneer in terms of new technological developments – just as it did 100 years ago.
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