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Artificial intelligence competition EU versus US

Researchers have warned that the European Union is leaving too much control and development of artificial intelligence is in the hands of the US. In an effort to counter that criticism, the EU commission announced that it is  stepping up its support to European start-ups and small and medium enterprises to “develop trustworthy artificial intelligence that respects EU values and rules.” 

An open letter coordinated by the German non-profit research group Laion (Large-scale AI Open Network) says that Europe cannot afford to lose AI sovereignty. 

Eliminating open-source R&D will leave the European scientific community and economy critically dependent on a handful of foreign and proprietary firms for essential AI infrastructure.

The EU commission has now announced it is stepping up support to European start-ups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) so they can develop trustworthy artificial intelligence (AI) that respects EU values and rules. 

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“The new AI package includes a broad range of measures to support these start-ups and innovation, along with a proposal to provide privileged access to supercomputers to AI start-ups and the broader innovation community.” 

Other measures include:

  • setting up AI Factories and making sure AI supercomputer infrastructure available for start-ups can be purchased and upgraded
  • a decision to establish an AI Office in the Commission which can develop and coordinate AI policy at European level and supervise the implementation and enforcement of the AI Act
  • an EU AI Start-Up and Innovation Communication which outlines key activities such as financial and equity support, Common European Data Spaces and other initiatives.
  • The establishment of two European Digital Infrastructure Consortiums, together with several Member States. The Commission says these groups will develop common European infrastructure in language technologies and state-of-the-art AI-tools to help cities optimise processes, from traffic to waste management.
Read Also:  Booming growth forecasted for European AI platforms

A State of European Tech report says that almost $35billion has been invested into European AI companies compared to more than $130billion in US AI companies. 

“While Europe is now consistently seeing rounds of investment of $100M or more, and even up to $0.5B, this pales in comparison with Microsoft’s $10B investment into OpenAI.”

Think-tank Centre for Data Innovation published a  report comparing China, the European Union, and the United States in terms of their relative standing in the AI economy by examining six categories of metrics—talent, research, development, adoption, data, and hardware. 

It finds that despite China’s bold AI initiative, the United States still leads in absolute terms. China comes in second, and the European Union lags further behind. 

“This order could change in coming years as China appears to be making more rapid progress than either the United States or the European Union. Nonetheless, when controlling for the size of the labor force in the three regions, the current U.S. lead becomes even larger, while China drops to third place, behind the European Union.”

In its statement the Commission stresses the EU AI Act agreed in December 2023 describing it as the world’s first comprehensive law on artificial intelligence that will “support the development, deployment and take-up of trustworthy AI in the EU.”

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