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Race of Innovations - The Prophet in His Own Country

Everyone knows it. The prophet counts for little in his own country. The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence has existed since 1988. Theoretically, there should therefore be a head start of several years over "young" research locations such as China and others.
October 3, 2018
Race of Innovations - The Prophet in His Own Country
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

It seems that the exact opposite is the case: the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) appears to be a well-kept secret. How else could DSAG board member Gerhard Göttert call for a shared vision for Germany as a business location?

There are more than enough visions for Germany at DFKI, only the government agencies have so far deliberately ignored DFKI - this is set to change in the future (see also the following two pages).

DFKI was founded in 1988 as a non-profit public-private partnership. It has locations in Kaiserslautern, Saarbrücken, Bremen, a project office in Berlin and branch offices in Osnabrück and St. Wendel.

DFKI is Germany's leading business-oriented research institution in the field of innovative software technologies based on artificial intelligence methods. In the international scientific community, DFKI is one of the most important "Centers of Excellence".

Unclear licensing

The DFKI probably needs more funding from Germany and Europe. However, it is difficult to understand the statements made by DSAG board member Gerhard Göttert, namely that existing customers have a good basis of innovation products with SAP offerings and that German SMEs need more support from government agencies for the introduction of AI.

An analysis by the E-3 editorial team shows a very different picture: Firstly, the SAP Leonardo digital framework is sufficiently good, but does not have the same level of maturity as comparable products from AWS, Google, IBM or Microsoft (see DSAG Blueprint 2/2018, page 20).

Secondly, basic AI products have become so inexpensive in many cases that the investment is the least of the hurdles - rather, staff shortages, a lack of business processes and unclear licensing regulations on the part of SAP are the much bigger hurdles.

Azure instead of Leonardo

SAP inventory customer Trumpf has developed a predictive maintenance application based on Microsoft Azure in the cloud: simple, precise and within a few months - without using the SAP Leonardo digital framework.

Financing was not an issue due to the use of Microsoft cloud products. The challenge was to transform the specialist knowledge of a few long-standing employees into a generally usable and global cloud app.

Economic scaling

Neither SAP nor DFKI will win the race for the best and most innovative AI products with millions of euros in funding; semi-state-owned companies in China are already too far ahead for that.

What counts here is simply the economic scaling effect. Achim Berg, Bitkom President, is therefore absolutely right when he calls for more basic research in the form of university positions for professors on the following page.

Basic research and patents seem to be a much better strategy than using SAP Leonardo to compete with AWS, Google, Alibaba etc. in the mass market.

Professor Jürgen Schmidhuber proved many years ago what opportunities are available in Germany with basic research. He and his colleagues at the Technical University of Munich invented the "long short-term memory" algorithm, which can now be found in the voice control systems of Google and Microsoft.

The heart of the digital economy should therefore be clever minds rather than prescribed visions from IT companies such as SAP.

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