Germany pledges €3bn investment in artificial intelligence

Chancellor Angela Merkel admits country is not among the world leaders in AI

The spending pledge is part of a national AI strategy approved by Angela Merkel’s cabinet on Thursday. Photograph: iStock

The spending pledge is part of a national AI strategy approved by Angela Merkel’s cabinet on Thursday. Photograph: iStock

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Germany will spend €3 billion to boost its artificial intelligence capabilities over the next six years, as part of a belated effort by Berlin to catch up with leading AI nations such as China and the United States.

The spending pledge is part of a national AI strategy approved by Angela Merkel’s cabinet on Thursday, following a two-day seminar on digital challenges attended by the chancellor and her ministers.

Berlin expects federal funding to be matched by the private sector, taking investment to at least €6 billion. 

“Today, Germany cannot claim to be among the world leaders in artificial intelligence,” Ms Merkel told journalists after the meeting. “Our aspiration is to make ‘Made in Germany’ a trademark also in artificial intelligence, and to ensure that Germany takes its place as one of the leading [AI] countries in the world.”

Research centres

The strategy paper also promises the creation of 100 university chairs with a focus on AI, along with additional research centres to complement facilities such as the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), which was founded in 1988. In total, Germany is aiming for a network of 12 centres for research, development and application of AI technologies offering “internationally attractive working conditions and pay”.

Analysts and industry representatives have long warned that Germany is falling behind rival countries in the field of AI, which is seen not only as critical for new products and markets but also as a potential threat to some of the country’s most important industries, especially the car sector.

– Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018

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