The industry association BITKOM comments on the paper "Key points of the Federal Government for an Artificial Intelligence Strategy". Ravin Mehta, founder and managing director of The unbelievable Machine Company, puts the topic and its requirements into an expert perspective.
Germany wants to shape the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) strategically using two instruments. On the one hand, the Bundestag has convened a commission of enquiry that will deal with the social dimensions and economic potential of AI over a period of two years. On the other hand, the Federal Government – led by the Federal Ministries of Economics and Energy (BMWi), Research and Education (BMBF) and Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) – has developed an AI strategy (available in German only). This strategy was recently adopted and presented at the Digital Summit this December 3 and 4.
Already in July, the Federal Government has published key points which are to serve as a basis for the AI strategy. Since then, associations, companies and experts have been invited to submit their feedback. The BITKOM has done this in the form of a comprehensive statement (available in German only) expressly welcoming the key points paper of the Federal Government: "It defines central fields of action, sets the right accents and identifies target-oriented measures". The key issues paper, it is said, creates the basis for a successful AI strategy that strengthens the competitiveness of Germany and Europe in the international environment. The necessary investments in research and development are guaranteed. And which makes Germany an attractive research and business location for AI experts from all over the world.
BITKOM takes a detailed position on the fields of action identified by the Federal Government, highlights the most important approaches, identifies deficits and proposes supplementary measures.
As a member of the industry association, we have played our part in this and, of course, also support the statement. At this point and from an individual expert perspective, we add Ravin Mehta's position:
Artificial intelligence (AI) is not merely a "mega trend", but the disruptive technological development of our time. When we talk about digitization, digital value creation and competitiveness today, we can no longer avoid AI. It is a decisive factor for the German economy and industry. What's more, digital technology by now has a decisive influence on everyday life and on social development in general.
This makes it all the more important this time – with the latest version of the Federal Government's digital strategy – not to deliver a further declaration of intent, but to create tangible foundations and facts. And it must not only be about economic promotion and financial support. What is needed is targeted government funding for research, digital infrastructure and education.
Research is not just a technical procedure, but is closely interlinked with industry and real-world applications. Digital infrastructure beyond the "initiative" broadband expansion promised since 2005 or the "digital agenda" of 2014 (both available in German only). And education not only at the university and professional level, but from school age. Including the teaching of digital and media competence as well as the corresponding technical equipment.
In addition, transparency and trustworthiness are needed in order to reduce resentment and fears and instead to prove the possibilities. The Federal Government can also make a significant contribution to this. As a regulating institution, for example with uniform guidelines for compliance and governance or data sovereignty.
At the same time however the economy has to create and communicate positive examples. Also in the course of the GDPR the focus must be put to the comprehensibility of the actions of AI and self-learning algorithms and the interaction of the human being with artificial intelligence. – As one of the innovators in the industry, we are there!
The importance that AI currently holds in Germany is demonstrated by our study "Machine Learning in German Companies – Operation and Application of Artificial Intelligence" conducted jointly with Crisp Research and Dell EMC. It provides an empirically based overview of integration into products and services for decision makers and managers. And it shows how companies organize their operations and which applications are now based on machine learning or will be in the future.
Ravin Mehta is founder and managing director of The unbelievable Machine Company (*um) in Berlin, Frankfurt and Vienna, and part of the executive management team of the Basefarm Group, to which *um belongs since mid-2017. He is one of the pioneers in Cloud Computing and Big Data/Data Science and knows how to develop innovative usage scenarios in the areas of Machine Learning/Deep Learning and AI. Before founding *um he was managing director of Pixelpark for ten years. Ravin Mehta holds a degree in computer science from the Technical University of Berlin.