Digitisation. Artificial intelligence. Germany. Europe. China.
Digitisation is the main driver of all change. For this transformation to be successful in Germany and Europe, it’s necessary to win people over and respond appropriately to their concerns and fears. An optimistic society with a welcoming attitude towards technology and innovation is the basis for successful change.
The main driver of this change today in the fourth wave of digital transformation is artificial intelligence, mainly originating in China.
China is pursuing one of the most extensive AI strategies and is the hub of global AI development. Today, China already publishes more research on the topic than the United States. The country is also leading the global competition in the field: In 2017, 48 of all global investments in AI startups came from China.
Sensetime, the first “unicorn” of the AI industry, has become the global market leader for facial recognition technology since its foundation in 2014. It receives support from major leading companies, including Alibaba and Qualcomm. Sensetime was already valued at over one billion dollars in 2016, and its worth is currently assessed at nearly 5 billion dollars.
By 2030, China will likely be the world’s most significant innovation hub for this technology – with the Chinese AI market estimated to value approx. 150 billion dollars.
Chinese authorities make major contributions to the funds invested in AI applications. They seek out collaborations with the country’s leading companies, referred to as BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent).
China is currently concentrating all of its power and resources to bring its country and the world into the future. With a large, tech-savvy population and weak data protection regulations, China’s authorities and companies have practically limitless opportunities for growth. Whether we like it or not, this initially poses a major competitive advantage when it comes to speed, testing and roll-outs as compared to Germany and Europe.
It’s possible to compensate for this “structural” disadvantage if we can develop sustainable, manageable AI concepts according to European standards and ideas of the future we want – of freedom, competition, pluralism and democracy, respecting the privacy of citizens, consumers and companies – while protecting achievements such as data protection, consumer rights, freedom of expression and intellectual property at the same time.
The future of digital transformation is decided on economic, geopolitical, financial, political and ethical questions. Competition in the realm of business is also a question of competition among political systems. Germany and Europe now need to face this competition.
At the same time, we can see an imbalance in everyday reporting in the media and press. While we receive extensive reports about every little piece of so-called “fake news” these days, media coverage from China is not broadly distributed. Instead, it seems to be reserved to business and political insiders. It’s about time for us to turn our focus towards Asia. To be that optimistic society welcoming of technology and innovation as described at the beginning, we need transparent, comprehensive information about the changing balance of power. If we want to continue to live in prosperity and democracy in future, changes and further developments in our existing “systems” of politics, business and society are no longer optional – they are a necessity. There is a great deal at stake.
Ain’t No Mountain aims to provide information, promote mutual understanding and productive encounters between Germany and China, and support international forums for education, politics and business.
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