Why Germany Lags on AI
Wed, April 21, 2021

Why Germany Lags on AI

Germany hesitates to invest in AI because it believes that it could "lead us straight into a total surveillance state" / Credits: canadastock via Shutterstock


With the rising adoption of artificial intelligence, it seems like every country is investing in the technology, with the US as the leading nation. A study conducted by Germany's Konrad Adenauer Foundation revealed that some of the reasons the country is the global leader in AI are it generates the most influential research papers on AI, has some 3,000 doctoral scholars working in this field each year, and boasts about 1,400 AI startups and seven of the world's leading tech companies.

Many tech giants such as Amazon, Alibaba, Google, Facebook, Apple and more are busy gathering and processing user data for several reasons, particularly for marketing purposes. The US tech companies, for instance, are capitalizing on data by selling it or using it to send us targeted advertising. Meanwhile, China is processing data to control Chinese citizens and force them into conformity.

Thus, many countries are hesitant to adopt AI technologies, including Germany. Dieter Janecek, a lawmaker in the German parliament and member of the Greens, warns that such technology could "lead us straight into a total surveillance state." The country is divided over whether AI should be welcomed or treated with utmost caution. Some who have expressed their hesitation include the country’s environmentalist Greens, socialist Left Party and some center-left Social Democrats. 

According to DW, a German state-owned public international broadcaster, one of the main reasons why Germany is hesitant to invest in AI technology is because Germans "have a tendency to demonize the gathering and processing of data on principle,” at least in the words of Joana Cotar of Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. 

However, Ronja Kemmer of the center-right Christian Democrats worries that such an attitude could hurt Germany. “If we allow every potential risk or mistake of an AI system to become an obstacle, there will be no innovation,” Kemmer said.