The Strategist

Scientists: European AI development has to catch up with the US and China

06/20/2018 - 16:14

To keep up with the United States and China in the field of artificial intelligence, Europe must follow the example of physicists who created CERN, and establish a scientific association CLAIRE in Europe, scientists from 20 countries call.

Ecole polytechnique via flickr
Ecole polytechnique via flickr
Artificial intelligence (AI) will lead to cardinal social and economic changes throughout the world, and Europe. In order not to lag behind North America and China, it is necessary to develop its own strategy in this area and unite the efforts of existing scientific centers.

This is the main message of the six-page draft published on June 18, by 154 professors and scientists from 20 leading EU countries, as well as Norway, Switzerland and Israel. At the time of publication of this article, more than 900 experts on AI have already signed their signatures on the document on the initiative's website called CLAIRE.

Europe is catching up

United efforts of European countries in one of the key areas of innovative development of mankind is clearly overdue. The text of the appeal indicates that huge private funds in the United States have already invested in the development associated with artificial intelligence. In addition, in 2016 there was approved a government program that provides significant long-term public investment in AI.

In 2017, the state program for the development of AI was adopted in Canada, and China unveiled a plan to achieve world supremacy in this area by 2030. At the same time, "Europe lags far behind its competitors in terms of investing in talent, research, technology and innovation in the field of AI," the document states.

However, it is said further, Europe has already begun to react. In April 2018, 25 countries signed a declaration on cooperation in the field of artificial intelligence, and the European Commission (the EU government) presented a preliminary plan for funding research in the field of AI. The goal is to achieve total private and public investment of at least 20 billion euro in the EU per year by the end of 2020.

CERN as a brand and a sample of unique infrastructure

In turn, the scientists propose to deepening cooperation with the help of the CLAIRE (Confederation of Laboratories for Artificial Intelligence in Europe) on the basis of numerous European research centers in the field of AI. On the one hand, this will be a network of laboratories and organizations that are independent of each other, but are closely interacting. On the other hand, it is proposed to create a single center, CLAIRE Hub, where scientists from all over Europe could periodically come together to jointly solve specific scientific problems.

The authors expressly write that this idea was inspired by the "extremely successful model of CERN", that is, The European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland near Geneva. The signatories of the document suggest not copying the organizational structure of CERN, but adopting its experience of creating a unique infrastructure for joint experiments and scientific research. 

In addition, CERN is a kind of brand, the document says. Its authors point out that the same brand, widely known far beyond the scientific world, is necessary for European researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. This will increase public interest in this subject and will promote popularization of European achievements in the field of AI.

Why should be the artificial intelligence Made in Europe?

"Knowledge and intelligence are the most valuable resources of any society, therefore investments in research and education are reasonable. Investments in the study and teaching of artificial intelligence are doubly reasonable: they increase intelligence of both man and machine," says one of the initiators and authors of the idea of creating CLAIRE Professor Holger Hoos, who teaches computer training at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.

The scientist is convinced: "Not only Europe needs to pay more attention to research and development in the field of artificial intelligence, but also to unite its efforts." Another co-author of the appeal, Morten Irgens, a professor at the University College of Oslo and Akershus, stresses that "industry in many European countries is very well prepared for the introduction of AI technologies." In particular, he is talking about the successes in the field of Industry 4.0.

According to the scientist, the question now is whether it will be technology developed "elsewhere" or whether it will be an artificial intellect Made in Europe, based on such European values as "transparency, justice and social acceptability."