Germany ramps up AI funding to close global tech gap

Germany is boosting AI research funding by nearly €1 billion over 2 years to catch up with global leaders. Plans include 150 new AI research labs, expanded data centers, and accessible public datasets.

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Germany is planning to increase its AI research funding by almost one billion euros in the next two years, aiming to narrow the gap with AI leaders China and the US This initiative is driven by Germany’s efforts to rejuvenate its economy while facing challenges in key sectors such as automobiles and chemicals. Bettina Stark-Watzinger, the Research Minister, revealed intentions to establish 150 new AI research labs in universities, expand data centres, and grant access to public data sets to stimulate AI advancements.

Although the proposed funding augmentation is notably lower than the US’s $3.3 billion AI budget in 2022, German authorities emphasise the country’s emerging regulatory framework that prioritises privacy and safety. This regulatory stance could potentially attract AI stakeholders.

Despite the doubling of AI startups in Germany during 2023, the nation still holds a global ranking of ninth place in this domain.

Why does this matter?

Germany’s increased investment in AI research holds significant implications for both the nation and the global tech landscape. As Germany aims to revitalise its economy and compete with AI giants like China and the US, this funding surge demonstrates the country’s commitment to innovation and technology-driven growth. The move has the potential to drive advancements across various sectors, from manufacturing to healthcare, ultimately boosting economic growth and job creation. Additionally, Germany’s focus on privacy and safety in AI aligns with evolving global regulatory trends, potentially attracting AI players and fostering international collaboration. While the funding increase may not match the scale of some competitors, it underscores Germany’s determination to leverage AI for long-term competitiveness, highlighting AI’s role in shaping the future of economies and industries worldwide.

Various nations and international bodies are taking steps toward regulating AI tools:

Australia is seeking input on regulations by consulting science advisory bodies.

Britain is planning regulations with the Financial Conduct Authority and competition regulator examining AI impact.

The Canadian government is developing a voluntary code of conduct for AI developers to prevent the creation of harmful or malicious content. The code will require safeguards to prevent cyberattacks, impersonation, and the misuse of personal data. It also aims to ensure the distinction between AI-generated and human-made content and includes provisions for user safety and the avoidance of biases.

China’s Interim Measures for Generative Artificial Intelligence, released in July 2023 and applicable starting 15 August 2023, apply to ‘the use of generative AI to provide services for generating text, pictures, audio, video, and other content to the public in the People’s Republic of China’. The regulation covers issues related to intellectual property rights, data protection, transparency, and data labelling, among others.

France is investigating possible breaches, including ChatGPT’s privacy concerns.

G7 is acknowledging the need for AI governance and seeking input on regulations.

Japan is preparing regulations closer to the US stance on AI.

UN is discussing AI’s impact on global peace, considering the creation of an AI watchdog.

United States is addressing copyright and consumer protection issues related to AI, investigating OpenAI’s practices, and urging AI content labelling. Similar calls regarding content labelling were voiced by the EU officials, particularly to combat disinformation.

European Union Lawmakers are agreeing to changes in a draft of the AI Act, particularly addressing facial recognition and biometric surveillance.