German AI investment urged by BITKOM

German AI investment
© iStock/AndreyPopov

An information technology industry body has called for more German AI investment to boost jobs and commercial opportunities.

In an appeal to the German federal government, the Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM) said the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in technology and industry demanded an increase in German AI investment in order to keep up with global trends.

A statement by BITKOM president Achim Berg described AI as “the most important key technology of the coming decades” and said: “We must succeed in making the diverse opportunities of AI for all areas of life, ranging from medicine, over mobility to education…[w]e do not have much time left in order to assume a leading role in AI. The AI strategy of the federal government is a signal of change, now we need to get to work.”

BITKOM said it welcomed a recent announcement by the German government that it plans to establish 100 new AI professorships as part of the €3 billion German AI investment project announced by Angela Merkel earlier this month. Berg noted that further work needed to be done to establish an ethical framework for AI research and development in the EU: the union has announced it plans to become a world leader in AI, promoting user security and data protection within the field.

A survey conducted by BITKOM found that in 2018, 62 per cent of Germans said they viewed AI as an opportunity for the country; compared to 48 per cent in 2017. 35 per cent still saw AI as a threat in 2018, down from 47 per cent in 2017. 71 per cent of respondents said German AI investment would be essential for the country’s industry in the future, with only six per cent saying the technology would have no effect on society. The German cabinet is due to meet in Nuremberg next week to lay out future strategies for AI investment and development as part of its new digital strategy.

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