UK and EU AI networks are of global importance only if they are one-time

According to one of the leading scholars of a European collaboration project, the US and China will dominate the production of artificial intelligence, unless the European Union (EU) and UK will find ways to stay one after Brexit.

Both populations are too limited to produce the requisite resources and expertise to contend with the US and China and may miss the opportunity to move AI in a separate and more sustainable direction, said Leiden University computer education professor Hoos in the Netherlands, Holger Hoos said.

“If you were to take the UK community out of the EU’s AI community, you would be left with two pieces, neither of which would have critical mass,” he told.

Hoos is one of the members of the CLAIRE, one of the three Federation of European Intelligence Labs. He said it was his greatest challenge, is “to make sure that European AI efforts reach critical mass”, adding: “This is rather than diluting everything to the point where the enormous amount of money that is going to be invested doesn’t have much of an effect.”

“If you look at where AI talent and capability sits in Europe the UK has been one of the most important places since the beginning. But as nice and important as the UK is, I think the AI community there is too small to compete and the EU community without the UK also doesn’t have critical mass.” It’d be a complete catastrophe, he said, from CLAIRE.

Hoos said the project is based on geographical Europe, although largely financed by the EU, and not only the EU. “Eighteen months ago, we saw various paths through Brexit and from the beginning, it was very important to conceive something that would draw from and support Europe as a geographic region,” he said.

The EU and the United Kingdom will be required to work together closely to play a role in global AI creation, Hoos says. The United States and China are the major players, but another country will set a new path. “China and the US are very different from each other and different to Europe in how AI is seen going forward.”

Hoos said a great deal of AI research in the United States is carried out by private companies like Google and Facebook, that gives it a special taste. “There is nothing wrong with this, but it is biased towards business and, to a lesser degree, consumer interests,” he said.

AI work in China is strongly state-controlled, Hoos said. “So, it is biased towards what they consider to be the most useful things for society as a whole,” he said.