A group of European researchers are coming together in a bid to advance AI research over fears the continent will fall behind.
The initiative will be called the European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems (ELLIS) and was launched on 6th December at the Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) meeting in Montreal, Canada.
Almost 200 researchers signed an open letter published in April warning AI investment and expertise in Europe is lagging behind the likes of North America and China.
Several reasons for this disparity have been highlighted by various academics.
The first reason has been called ‘brain drain’ where Silicon Valley giants, in particular, have lured talent away from academia with unmatchable salaries – even those offered by the UK’s renowned universities such as Cambridge and Oxford.
Another is stifling EU regulations. While data protection is important, regulations such as GDPR are often regarded as too strict. AI is particularly reliant on analysing mass amounts of data.
If you’re looking to start an AI company or invest in one, Europe is not an attractive place due to such regulations. China could do with some more data protection rules, but it’s a great place for an AI business.
A report by Elsevier predicts China will lead AI research. In fact, since 2014 the country has outpaced the US in the number of published AI research papers.
“China aspires to lead globally in AI and is supported by ambitious national policies,” the report reads. “A net brain gain of AI researchers in China also suggests an attractive research environment.”
“China’s AI focuses on computer vision and does not have a dedicated natural language processing and knowledge representation cluster, including speech recognition, possibly because this type of research in China is conducted by corporations that may not publish as many scientific articles.”
Some of the world’s most funded AI companies are based in China, including SenseTime which is valued at over $3 billion.
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