Facts and Analysis
Our ongoing series: The Future Artificial Intelligence – Powered World
Artificial Intelligence, Computing Power and Geopolitics (2) – (open access/free)
$2 Billion for Next Gen Artificial Intelligence for U.S. Defence – Signal- (open access/free)
Artificial Intelligence – Forces, Drivers and Stakes (premium/members-only)
Militarizing Artificial Intelligence – China part 1 and part 2 (open access/free)
On 14 November 2018, the German Government launched its new Digital Strategy (see below in sources). Within it, we find the Strategie Künstliche Intelligenz, “KI als Markenzeichen für Deutschland” /”KI made in Germany”.
“The Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy is to bring research and development, and application of AI in Germany, to a leading level worldwide…”
According to this strategy, 3 billion euros ($3.93 billion) should be invested by 2025, going especially in research for the Federal funds, while an equivalent amount is expected to be provided by the private sector. If we count that the plan lasts over seven years, this translates into an expected €428 million per year for public funding ($560 million), and as much coming from German companies.
On the bright side, this underlines the creation of a framework considering a public-private research-industry complex for AI, as exists in the U.S. in a way that is quite similar – but broader – to Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex (Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961). Indeed, considering the characteristics of the AI (actually at the moment narrow AI, focusing on deep learning) development at this end of the second decade of the 21st century, it would be meaningless to only look at public funding for AI, without also considering private actors.
Yet, we should remember that just the U.S. Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) invested $2 billion for a program campaign for the next generation AI ($2 Billion for Next Gen Artificial Intelligence for U.S. Defence – Signal). The most recent study by the U.S. Congressional Research Service “Artificial Intelligence and National Security” (26 April 2018) estimated that U.S. technology companies invested approximately $20-$30 billion in 2016, while “DOD’s unclassified investment in AI for FY2016 totaled just over $600 million” (using respectively McKinsey Global Institute, Artificial Intelligence, The Next Digital Frontier?, June 2017, pp. 4-6. and Govini, Department of Defense Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Cloud Taxonomy, December 3, 2017).
China, for its part plans to invest $150 billion in government funding for AI by 2030 (CRS, Ibid.). Meanwhile the Chinese BATX among other Chinese companies are making massive investments in AI and are very active indeed.
Hence, the amount planned by Germany remains very small indeed compared with the leaders of the race, China and the U.S. It is nonetheless higher than what is planned by France, i.e. to invest €1.5 billion over five years (€300 million a year).
Meanwhile, Germany succeeded in taking the eighth place in the supercomputer world Top500 list for November 2018, which is crucial should one wants to be a serious actor on the world stage in AI (see Artificial Intelligence, Computing Power and Geopolitics (2) – free/open access). Germany has 17 High Performance Computing (HPC) systems, and France can use 18 such systems. Furthermore, both, through the EU are well placed in the race to exascale (Winning the Race to Exascale Computing – Artificial Intelligence, Computing Power and Geopolitics (4)).
Finally, if funding and investments are crucial indeed, smartness does not depend upon quantity. Furthermore, the quantum technologies are a very disruptive factor in terms of AI, as we showed previously (Winning the Race to Exascale Computing… and The Coming Quantum Computing Disruption, Artificial Intelligence and Geopolitics (1) – free/open access. And there, Germany is emerging as the top public investor (forthcoming article), with public funding reaching €262,5 million per year ($301,24 million) in Quantum Information Systems (“Quantentechnologien – von den Grundlagen zum Markt“, August 2018). Private investments still remain to be assessed.
As a result, the race for Germany, as well as France if we take a more European outlook – to which we should add the UK despite Brexit, as historical and geographical ties will remain – will most probably be a challenging one, but all is not lost, far from it, considering the highly shifting and fluid environment. Surprises are certainly possible.
Sources and Signals
The German government intends to shape the digital revolution and prepare the country as well as possible for the future. To this end the government has put together a package of measures which is summed up in an implementation strategy.
“KI made in Germany” soll zu einem internationalen Markenzeichen für moderne, sichere und gemeinwohlorientierte KI-Anwendungen auf Basis des europäischen Wertekanons werden. Damit das gelingt, hat das Kabinett die von BMWi–Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie, BMBF und BMAS gemeinsam vorgelegte Strategie Künstliche Intelligenz beschlossen.
“The internet is new territory,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said back in 2013. It was a comment that prompted ridicule, but at the same time indicated Germany’s lackluster approach to digitalization. Five years on, Germany has finally joined the party.