Europe, the Silent Scorer in AI Race. What More Should the Continent Do to Win it?
As a silent player, Europe is moving forward in the AI race without much decoration
A couple of years ago, Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, warned that the country that leads in technologies using Artificial Intelligence (AI) will dominate the globe. He was right about his point. Even though Russian is a minor player, the world is closely monitoring the AI race between the front runners, the United States and China. But as a silent player, Europe is slowly moving forward without much decoration.
Many nations are competing in the race to achieve a global innovation advantage in artificial intelligence. Countries understand that AI is a foundational technology that can boost competitiveness, increase productivity, protect national security and help solve societal challenges. To lead in the AI race, nations have to stand out in six categories such as talent, research development, adoption, data and hardware. Remarkably, the US and China are reportedly maintaining a close margin to win the competition. Both countries have made their point clear by initiating strong AI policies in recent years. In 2017, China laid out its three-step plan to become the world leader in AI and cultivate an industry worth US$147.7 billion. The US, meanwhile, announced the American AI initiative to redirect funds, data and Research & Development efforts towards AI commercialization and research. Unfortunately, that is not the whole picture. European countries are making slow, but steady efforts to make the continent an AI hub. The European nations maintain a low key like Israel, Japan and South Korea when it comes to technology. Both government and private players in the continent are unknowingly making big efforts on the AI radar. Even though Europe is remarkably making a stance, a lot needs to be done in order to win the AI race.
Power the outnumbering AI-researchers
Europe has the talent and numbers to compete with the United States and China. Indeed, it has more AI researchers than its peers, and typically produces the most number of researchers as well. The hurdle that the AI sector in Europe faces is a disconnect between the amount of AI talents in the EU and its commercial AI adoption and funding. Henceforth, Europe should look for ways to power the AI-researchers.
Support the blooming AI start-ups
Start-ups are a sign that the country is leveraging enough facilities for a particular sector to grow and shine. The number of AI start-ups in Europe is booming exponentially. The management consultancy McKinsey produced a report in 2019 detailing how 25% of the world’s AI start-ups were all based in Europe. Unfortunately, European governments have little to do for the emerging start-ups. AI start-ups in the United States and China received more venture capital, and private equity funding in 2017 alone than EU AI start-ups received in the three years covering 2016 through 2018. Henceforth, European governments should loosen their policies to attract more investments into start-ups.
Take Unified initiative to support AI growth
Europe consists of many countries. The European Union has over 27 member countries that take unified decisions for continental issues. Unfortunately, the union is not taking technological developments seriously like the US and China. Over the past few years, there have been eighteen AI national strategies published independently by different EU countries. All of them preach the same ‘improving local AI innovation capabilities’ content. Rather than making moves here and there, the European nations should join together and fix a single AI improvement framework that will be more effective.
Implement data sharing between companies
Europe has stricter privacy rules compared to other nations. This bars the tech giants from sharing information, which can be used to shape the AI sector. In 2018, the EC found that 60% of companies did not share data with other companies, and 58% did not reuse data obtained from others. In contrast, China utilizes every bit of data it gets and develops the data labeling industry. Henceforth, Europe should think of a way where it can both regulate companies and drive AI growth.
Strengthen the ethical framework
When it comes to regulatory and ethical frameworks, the EU fares better than the US and China. Ultimately, the EU’s focus on protecting user privacy could be an asset if it enables European innovators to build AI applications that are more consumer-friendly. Remarkably, Europeans could also be more readily accept AI technologies that respect their fundamental rights.