Europe vies for relevance in the age of AI

That concentration of power annoys European governments. It helps European companies become customers of the future, importing the latest services and technology in exchange for money and data sent west across the Atlantic. And these concerns have taken on new urgency – in part because some in Brussels see a growing gap in values ​​and beliefs between Silicon Valley and average EU citizens and elected representatives. their gourd; and partly because AI occupies a large place in the popular imagination as the engine of the next technological revolution.

Fears about Europe falling behind in AI predate ChatGPT. 2018, European Commission promulgate AI plans calls for “AI made in Europe” that can compete with the US and China. But beyond the desire to have some kind of control over the shape of technology, the operational definition of AI sovereignty has become quite blurred. “For some, that means we need to act together to fight back,” said Daniel Mügge, a professor of political arithmetic at the University of Amsterdam who studies technology policy in the EU. Big Tech”. “For everyone else, it means there’s nothing wrong with Big Tech, as long as it’s European, so let’s get to work and make it happen.”

Those competing priorities have begun to complicate EU regulation. The bloc’s AI Acthas been approved by the European Parliament March and is likely to become law this summer, with a heavy focus on regulating potential harms and privacy concerns surrounding the technology. However, some member states, notably France, have made clear during negotiations on the law that they fear the regulation could tie the hands of their emerging AI companies that they hope to become. European alternatives to OpenAI.

Speaking to the UK summit on AI safety last November, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire speak that Europe needs to “innovate before regulating” and that the continent needs “European actors to master AI”. The final text of the AI ​​Act includes a commitment to make the EU “a leader in the development of trustworthy AI”.

“The Italians, the Germans and the French thought at the last minute: ‘Well, we need to reduce the neglect of European companies in platform models.’” “That was encapsulated,” Mügge said. in the idea that Europe needs European AI. Since then, I feel like people have realized that it’s a little bit harder than they wanted it to be.”

Sarlin, who recently toured European capitals, including meeting with policymakers in Brussels, said Europe has some of what it takes to compete. To be a player in AI, you must have data, computing power, talent and capital, he said.

Data is quite widely available, Sarlin added, and Europe has AI talent, although it sometimes has difficulty retaining it.

To add more computing power, the EU is investing in high-performance computing resources, building a network of high-performance computing facilities across Europe and providing startups with access into the supercomputer via “AI factory” initiative.

Accessing the capital needed to build large AI projects and companies is also a challenge, with a huge gap between the US and other countries. According to Stanford University AI index reportPrivate investment in US AI companies reaches $67 billion by 2023, more than 35 times the amount invested in Germany or France. Research from Accel Partners shows that by 2023, the seven largest private investment rounds of innovative US AI companies totaled $14 billion. The top seven companies in Europe are worth a total of less than $1 billion.


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