Merkel warns of AI brain drain to foreign tech companies

BERLIN — Germany is at risk of losing its best experts on artificial intelligence to the worlds private tech giants, Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Wednesday.

“The big internet companies are really trying to get a market monopoly here,” Merkel said during a panel discussion when asked what she has identified as some of the most pressing digital policy issues since taking office for a fourth term about three months ago.

At the same time, the countrys “startups still dont have enough ways to get funding when they get bigger and theres always a danger that theyre snapped up from abroad,” Merkel added.

Earlier this week, Germanys leading artificial intelligence (AI) startups warned in a report that the country is falling behind in the research of artificial intelligence while at the same time, a lack of public and private investment is holding back the development of cutting-edge AI applications.

Berlin has yet to publish a national AI strategy, unlike Paris which unveiled its plan in March.

A high-level expert group inside Merkels chancellery is now working on a strategy, but its release has been delayed repeatedly, partly because of a political deadlock following last years national election, and is now expected late this fall.

“We have to build on our strengths,” Merkel told the audience when asked about the document in the making. Those strengths, she said, “currently, are not in reaching consumers.”

Instead, Germany should focus on developing technology for connected manufacturing, or the Internet of Things, Merkel added.

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