Research in AI, France and Germany shoulder-to-shoulder

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Research in AI, France and Germany shoulder-to-shoulder

In terms of spending on artificial intelligence, two countries largely dominate: the United States and China with respectively 249 and 95 billion dollars. According to the 2023 AI Index Report data, France and Germany are far behind.

However, our German neighbors are ahead of the Hexagons by a short head with 7 billion dollars, against 6.6 billion for France. The real competition, however, is not between the two Europeans.

150 new university laboratories

Nevertheless, Germany intends to strengthen its investments. As with semiconductors, international competition is intensifying. Olaf Scholz’s government has announced a two-year plan of almost one billion euros for the benefit of artificial intelligence research.

The German state will practically double its budget in this sector. This envelope will allow it to finance, in particular, the creation of 150 new university laboratories for AI research.

But according to Reuters, the plan will also finance the development of data centers and the provision of the set of complex public data. Applied to this heritage of data, AI should make it possible to extract new information, ambitions Germany.

Officially, the country is not racing with France, but with the two world leaders, including the United States which devoted $ 3.3 billion to AI research in 2022. For the Minister of Research, Europe has other assets than spending.

An explainable AI to compete against the US

“We have an explainable, trustworthy and transparent AI. This is a competitive advantage”” says Bettina Stark-Watzinger with reference to the AI Act – despite opposition from leading European entrepreneurs.

And what about France? Between 2018 and 2022, the French state executed its national strategy for AI, endowed with a budget of public funds of 1.5 billion euros for five years. This strategy pursued two major ambitions.

It was a question of permanently installing France in the top 5 AI expert countries on a global scale, but also of making it the European leader in AI research – because Union or not, the rivalry remains within Europe.

As Inria points out, Germany nevertheless remains a privileged partner. Thus, a memorandum of understanding containing 5 projects between Inria and the DFKI has been concluded. In addition, the European neighbors share two calls for projects in AI.

Jean Zay, a French asset?

To serve its ambitions in artificial intelligence, France also relies on its own strengths, including its supercomputer Jean Zay. Inria recalls that it constitutes the “first French supercomputer converged between intensive computing and AI.”

“Jean Zay has already enabled the realization of more than 1,200 projects, including BLOOM, the largest open science multilingual model, with 46 languages, including 20 African languages and 176 billion parameters,” says the institute.

Nevertheless, as stated by the co-leader of the French AI player, LightOn, the supercomputer does not make it possible to compete with the Americans in terms of computing power, in particular for lack of sufficient GPUs in number.

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