27-02-2020 4:39 am Published by Nederland.ai Leave your thoughts

Scientists are divided over the extent to which European artificial intelligence research should be concentrated in a central facility, as Brussels creates a center equivalent to the role of Cern in nuclear science.

As Europe is spent in Asia and North America in the area of AI research, the European Commission has warned that the continent “cannot afford to maintain the current fragmented landscape,” in which no research center ” has the size needed to compete with the leading institutions in the world “.

To remedy that, Brussels wants Europe to be given a “lighthouse center for research, innovation and expertise” that will become a “world reference of excellence in AI” that “harbors” the best talents in this field.
Nevertheless, Holger Hoos, professor of machine learning at Leiden University, said the document was a step toward creating an AI equivalent to Cern – a goal of the Confederation of Laboratories for Artificial Intelligence Research in Europe (Claire), who has lobbied policy makers in Brussels to support such a research pool.

“Critical mass” is the word that we really like, “said Professor Hoos, one of Claire's founders.” You really have to integrate the whole of Europe. ”

Claire provides a Cern-like institute for up to 800 researchers, he explained. “When you get there, you're surrounded by the top people,” he said.

But some researchers have argued that a more distributed network would be a better option.

Claire supports a central hub alongside a European network. To compete with people like Google, “sometimes you just have to get the right people together,” said Professor Hoos, who sees the committee's White Paper as a confirmation of its strategy.

Another group, the European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems (Ellis), on the other hand, wants a “network of excellence”, more like the European Laboratory for Molecular Biology, which has several laboratories throughout the continent, explained Nuria Oliver , a computer scientist and board member of Ellis, from.

“Today, so many innovation needs are placed under the AI label that there is no way to address them with a single organization,” warned Daniela Diaconu, Ellis's scientific coordinator.

One of the challenges would be to decide where such a center should be located, because the EU Member States could fear that a central continental hub would undermine their own national AI research strategies.

Claire's solution would be to make internships at the hub temporary, Professor Hoos explained. It would not hire permanent academics, but only provide support staff and computer facilities. In exchange for substantial research grants, the main AI scholars of the continent would agree to spend part of their time at the hub, but without moving away from their home country.

Anxious European AI researchers have warned that the continent's investment is lagging behind that of the US and China, and that progress is being hampered by talent leaks to technology companies in the US, such as Google.

According to the committee, Europe invested 3.2 billion euros (2.7 billion pounds) in AI research and innovation in 2016, about half of Asia's spending (6.5 billion euros) and barely more than a quarter of North America spending (€ 12.1 billion).

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