Berlin 14.11.2018

eco: German Federal Government Needs Holistic Thinking on AI

  • AI ‘made in Germany’ requires high-performance digital infrastructures
  • Civey-Survey demonstrates great insecurity in the general population on the topic of AI
  • eco guidelines call for market-oriented regulatory mechanisms, transparency, and an educational offensive

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a decisive future-oriented technology and an important market for Germany as a digital location. Germany may still count as a leader in the area of KI research, but is having a hard time – in comparison to China and the USA – bringing concrete technologies and applications onto the market. In the view of eco – Association of the Internet Industry, in order to occupy this important technological field and turn AI into a core competency of German industry, a holistic AI strategy is needed which not only depends on targeted research and development but also high-performance digital infrastructures, and supports the societal acceptance of AI technologies.

“Three billion Euros for AI research creates a good basis, but it doesn’t help us further if we can’t get the results and the developments onto the street and into the market,” says eco Chair of the Board Oliver Süme, with a view to the German federal government’s AI strategy, expected tomorrow.

AI ‘made in Germany’ requires high-performance digital infrastructures

For this, in the view of the association, there is a need above all for a reliable and appropriate framework for the use of AI. This would need to be based on innovation-friendly and market-oriented regulatory mechanisms, and would need to promote and support the use of AI in diverse industry sectors. “Germany should fortify its existing strengths and in particular further build on the perspectives of the application of AI technology for cyber security for the detection of anomalies in network traffic, and in this way strengthen the increasingly important topic of IT security,” according to Süme.

Also necessary is an improvement in the framework conditions for data centers and other operators of digital infrastructures in Germany, which form the backbone of reliable AI applications and also need to finally be recognized as such by politics. “Education, research, innovative industrial manufacturing, and high-performance digital infrastructures are the four pillars of a strong ecosystem that can bring reliable and secure AI applications onto the market and secure our long-term digital self-determination in this important technology area,” Süme continues.

In the spirit of a European digital single market, a synchronization of the German AI strategy with the European approaches would be more than desirable.

Civey-Survey demonstrates great insecurity in the general population on the topic of AI

A second important success factor for AI is, according to eco, the targeted promotion of trust and acceptance of AI technologies in the general population. Currently, the topic of AI is met with great skepticism among broad sections of the population, as confirmed in a new representative survey by the market research institute Civey on behalf of eco. According to the survey results, 44 percent of participants assume that AI will have a negative or “somewhat negative” impact on society, while a mere 29.5% expect positive or “somewhat positive” changes. However, this negative picture is based on a lack of experience with AI technologies, as the survey also shows: Around three quarters (73.4%) of those surveyed admitted never themselves having used AI technologies such as speech assistants. “Knowledge engenders acceptance. The provision of basic knowledge on the systems and methods of artificial intelligence must become part of the general public education mandate,” Oliver Süme insists. Here, providers and operators of artificial intelligence systems are equally called upon as politics. In this framework, politics must also take account of the protection of business secrets and personal data, and if necessary develop new mechanisms for the analysis and assessment of the work of artificial intelligence. “The development of AI applications and systems according to high ethical and data-protection compliant standards could represent a competitive advantage for Germany, and Europe as a whole,” says Süme.

eco guidelines call for market-oriented regulatory mechanisms, transparency, and an educational offensive

These and further demands can be found in the new paper that eco has recently published on the topic of AI.

The complete paper eco Guidelines for the Handling of Artificial Intelligence can be found online at: