The innovation and progress that we are currently seeing in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) have the potential to become a key driver of productivity. Experts predict that the use of AI will generate high levels of growth. A study (in German) commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy found that, over the next five years, AI will add approx. €32 billion to Germany’s manufacturing output. This figure corresponds to a third of the growth expected to be achieved by the sector over that period.

The Federal Government has taken up the political task that results from the swift progress made in the field of AI. On 15 November 2018, it adopted its Artificial Intelligence Strategy. The Strategy (in German) was drawn up jointly by the Economic Affairs Ministry, the Research Ministry and the Labour Ministry. The Federal Government’s aim is to safeguard Germany’s outstanding position as a research centre, to build up the competitiveness of German industry, and to promote the many ways to use AI in all parts of society. The focus is to be placed on the benefits for people and the environment, and the intensive dialogue underway with all sections of society about AI is to be strengthened.

Germany is already extremely well positioned in many areas of AI. This Strategy builds on existing strengths and transfers them to areas where no or little use has been made of the potential.

In the 2019 federal budget, the Federation has taken a first step, allocating a total of €500 million to beef up the AI strategy for 2019 and the following years. Up to and including 2025, the Federation intends to provide around €3 billion for the implementation of the Strategy. The leverage effect this will have on business, science and the Länder will mean that the overall amount available is at least doubled.

The Federal Government’s AI Strategy sets out a number of different measures designed to help achieve three major objectives:

1) Making Germany and Europe global leaders on the development and use of AI technologies and securing Germany's competitiveness in the future.

  • Further develop our existing Centres of Excellence for AI research at supra-regional level, establish additional ones and incorporate them all into a national network of at least twelve centres and application hubs.
  • Create at least 100 additional professorships for AI to ensure that AI has a firm place within the higher education system.
  • Work with France and drive forward the development of a Franco-German research and development network (virtual centre) that is based on existing structures and the particular skills possessed by each of the two countries.
  • Make AI one of the priorities for the envisaged Agency for Breakthrough Innovations.
  • Form a European innovation cluster providing funding for cooperative research projects over the next five years.
  • Have the ‘AI trainers’ based at the Mittelstand 4.0 Centres of Excellence contact at least 1,000 companies per year.
  • Support companies as they establish test beds.
  • Double the budget for EXIST in 2019.
  • Create new funding opportunities for venture capital and venture debt and launch a Tech Growth Fund Initiative.
  • Set incentives and create an environment that makes it easier to share data voluntarily and in a way that is in line with data protection rules.

2) Safeguarding the responsible development and use of AI that serves the good of society.

  • Establish a German AI observatory.
  • Initiate European and transatlantic dialogue on the human-centred use of AI in the world of work.
  • As part of a National Further Training Strategy, develop a broad-based set of instruments to foster the skills of the workforce.
  • Use the results of a new skills monitoring to inform and develop the Skilled Labour Strategy in the fields of digital skills and new technologies such as AI.
  • Safeguard the possibilities for works councils to engage in codetermination when it comes to the introduction and use of AI.
  • Fund in-company-based test beds for AI applications in the world of work.
  • Fund AI applications to benefit the environment and the climate, and develop assessment principles for this. Our goal is to initiate 50 flagship applications in this field.

3) Integrating AI in society in ethical, legal, cultural and institutional terms in the context of a broad societal dialogue and active political measures.

  • Invite data protection authorities and business associations for a round table and work together to develop joint guidelines for developing and using AI systems in a way that is compatible with data protection rules and to highlight best practice examples.
  • Provide funding for the development of innovative applications that support self-determination, social inclusion, cultural participation and the protection of citizens’ privacy.
  • Establish a Digital Work and Society Future Fund to get the message out and to promote multidisciplinary social technology design.
  • Further develop the Learning Systems Platform to become the Artificial Intelligence Platform hosting a dialogue between government, science and commerce with civil society.

You can learn more at www.ki-strategie-deutschland.de (in German).