This concentration of power is uncomfortable for European governments. It makes European companies customers of the future, importing the latest services and technology in exchange for money and data sent west across the Atlantic. These concerns have gained new urgency – in part because some in Brussels recognize a growing gap in values ​​and beliefs between Silicon Valley, the average European citizen, and their elected representatives; And partly because AI looms large in the collective imagination as the driver of the next technological revolution.

European fears of backwardness in AI predate ChatGPT. In 2018, the European Commission Artificial intelligence plan released Call for a “European AI industry” that can compete with the United States and China. But beyond the desire for some kind of control over the shape of technology, the operational definition of AI sovereignty has become largely ambiguous. “For some people, this means we need to join forces to fight big tech,” says Daniel Moog, a professor of political arithmetic at the University of Amsterdam, who studies EU technology policy. “For others, this means there is nothing wrong with big tech companies, as long as they are European, so let’s go ahead and make it happen.”

These competing priorities are beginning to complicate EU regulation. Artificial intelligence law of the blockApproved by the European Parliament in March It will likely become law this summer, and focuses heavily on regulating potential harms and privacy concerns related to the technology. However, some member states, notably France, made clear during negotiations on the law that they feared regulation would restrict their AI startups, which they hope will become European alternatives to OpenAI.

Speaking at the UK summit last November on AI safety, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said He said That Europe needs to “innovate before it regulates” and that the continent needs “European actors who master artificial intelligence.” The final text of the AI ​​Act includes a commitment to make the EU a “leader in uptake of trustworthy AI.”

“At the last minute, the Italians, Germans and French thought: ‘Okay, we need to reduce some of the slowdown that European companies are experiencing in terms of enterprise models,’” Moggi says. “This falls into the idea that Europe needs European AI. Since then, I feel that people have realized that it is a little more difficult than they want.

Europe has some of the elements it needs to compete, says Sarlin, who recently toured European capitals, including meeting with policymakers in Brussels. To be an AI player, he says, you must have data, computing power, talent and capital.

Sarlin adds that data is fairly widely available, and that Europe has AI talent, although it sometimes struggles to retain it.

To mobilize more computing power, the EU is investing in high-performance computing resources, building a European network of high-performance computing facilities, and giving startups access to supercomputers via “Artificial intelligence factories” initiative.

Access to the capital necessary to build large projects and companies in the field of artificial intelligence also represents a major challenge, as there is a wide gap between the United States and everyone else. According to Stanford University Artificial Intelligence Index ReportPrivate investments in US AI companies exceeded $67 billion in 2023, more than 35 times the amount invested in Germany or France. Search from Accel partners It shows that in 2023, the seven largest private investment rounds for US generative AI companies totaled $14 billion in 2023. The top seven in Europe totaled less than $1 billion.

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