AI Race Part 3 of 4: The European Union's Coordinated and Holistic Approach

Unlike China and the US, the European Union offers a holistic approach to AI development.

As China and the US vie for dominance in the field, the European Union offers an alternative path. It starts with a coordinated strategy from a regional perspective followed by individual countries that leverage their unique abilities and strategic advantages. Above all, they earmarked funding for thinking through the ethical implications of these technologies.

French president Emmanuel Macron recently announced the AI strategy for his country. The plan includes a mix of private and government investment to the total of 1.5 billion euros. In a unique move, the plan also includes the setting up of an open data approach to help businesses and customers. On the one hand, business can look at a centralized place for data. On the other, customers get centralized transparency of how their data is being collected and used. If the plan is well executed, this central data place can both provide quality data for AI models while still ensuring privacy concerns are mitigated. The strategy also includes innovative ideas such as harnessing the power of AI to solve environmental challenges and a narrow focus on industries that the country can compete in.

While Germany has not announced a comprehensive plan to date, the country already leads in AI within the automotive industry. Berlin is considered the fourth largest hub for AI startups. An area in Southern Germany known as Cyber Valley is becoming a hub for collaboration between academia and industry for AI. These moves on their own will do much to place Germany and the European Union as a formidable contender in the AI race.

These countries’ individual strategies are further bolstered by a regional strategy that aims to foster collaboration between countries. Earlier this year, the European commission pledged 20 billion Euros over the next two years for the 25-country bloc. It proposed a three-pronged approach: (1) increase investment in AI, (2) prepare for socio-economic changes, and (3) devise an appropriate ethical and legal framework. This holistic approach may not win the race but it will certainly keep Europe as the moral leader in the field.

Reality Changing Observations:

Q1. As countries announce their AI strategy for the coming years, what should the global AI race be about?

Q2. Is it just another arms race or could it be about human flourishing?

Q3. What do you think about your country’s AI strategy?