The European Commission is exploring the possibility of developing an AI-on-demand platform to boost the advancement of the new technology within Europe.

Artificial intelligence is quickly becoming a hot topic for governments across the globe. The UK recently announced what it called its ‘Digital Strategy’, which incorporated a £17 million investment in AI, and France recently announced its France IA initiative. Now, Europe’s getting in on the act and the European Commission held a consultation on AI in January. Over 30 start-ups, corporations, associations and academics were invited to participate in the discussion and advise the EC on whether Europe should develop an AI-on-demand platform.

As tends to happen with these things, the room was split between skeptics and enthusiasts. Fears were voiced over the existing commercial and crowd sourced AI platforms that already have a huge head start. This was of course in reference to platforms like Google Cloud Machine Learning, Rainbird, TensorFlow, Amazon Web Services and BEAT. Skeptics also voiced concerns over the complexity of the new technology.

Added to this, there’s the fact that a lot of these start-ups can’t afford to match the salaries offered by corporate companies working in AI. Attracting talent in Europe is difficult, mainly because the big money is in Silicon Valley. The geographical dispersion of knowledge will is also a huge problem for the EC when trying to develop this AI platform. On top of this, certain attendees stressed the importance of continuing long term research in AI to help the overall advancement of the new technology.

Yet, the EC’s intention behind building an AI-on-demand platform are good. They want to, as the EC puts it (via Laure Andrieux‘s blog post) , “Build simple, stay flexible, learn and improve.” There’s still confusion regarding how Europe should address AI. The end goals is obviously to develop this fabled AI-on-demand platform, but should they start off small? Should Europe simply provide data sets, offer financial support for start-ups toward hiring new talent and research, and provide funding for advertising?

However, most participants showed a desire to ensure that Europe builds on the promise that European AI offers, mainly because they do not want to end up, “missing the boat” on AI and being left behind by the US and Asia. Hopefully, they’ll all agree that the possibilities behind AI are endless, and if we work together on the development of this new technology, Europe could become the hotbed for established companies and start-ups to develop incredible things with artificial intelligence.

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0