Why do planes fail

Artificial intelligence : Altmaier's "AI Airbus" is doomed to failure

"Just as the referee is not allowed to play a football game, the state does not have to play along," said Ludwig Erhard in his government declaration from 1963 on the role of the state in the economy. Much of his credo does not seem to have remained in the Union today, however. The self-proclaimed defenders of the market economy now want to slip a jersey over the referee. Artificial intelligence, according to Federal Minister of Economics Altmaier, must finally be developed on a European basis in an "AI Airbus". The dominance of US companies in this area must be ended.

From a purely technical point of view, the supposed equation of aircraft and artificial intelligence is absurd. Because while aircraft are clearly defined industrial products, AI is a vaguely defined technology. It will change the life of every person, but also the products and working methods of every company. To ask today which goods will be most affected by AI is as absurd as if someone had asked in the 18th century what impact electricity will have.

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Europe does not need a state-staged, central body for the development of AI. On the contrary: Artificial intelligence is already being developed locally by every company for its applications. Start-ups and medium-sized companies, just like large companies, have to act independently but networked instead of being concentrated in a company that is inspired by planned economy.

In general, the desire for a more state economy and less market economy is a worrying trend. The recent end of the A380 at Airbus, which could cost the taxpayer 600 million euros, shows once again that the state is simply not the better entrepreneur. Anyone who blindly believes in the entrepreneurial skills of politicians sees the state as the solution to every problem.

The state's track record is grossly overestimated. It is all too easy to forget the horror balance of the state in projects such as the Berlin airport, the Hamburg Elbphilhamonie or its attempts to gain a foothold in the solar industry. Politicians fail to manage the construction of an airport properly and are now presuming to define and develop future key technologies? Only Mr. Altmaier knows how that fits together.

Innovation power instead of a five-year plan

No politician has made Google, Amazon, Facebook or Microsoft a talent magnet through a regulation. Politicians are also not responsible for the decades of global dominance of German automotive companies. No five-year plan of a politician can compete with the innovation power of a start-up. Anyone who compares the online function of the electronic identity card with offers from private companies knows why the state should stay out of innovative markets as much as possible.

Visionaries, inventors and thought leaders have made this country prosperous. They build technologies that make our lives easier and design products that we love. It is our job as politicians to create the right framework for the accelerators of the future - not to compete with them in the market.

Politics should create the necessary framework conditions

Ultimately, staging images of the enemy abroad is hardly beneficial. Instead, politics should create the necessary framework conditions so that companies can successfully develop artificial intelligence in Germany. Why are the Daimler and Bosch research centers for autonomous driving in California and not in Baden-Württemberg?

Instead of first considering the risks in every technology in accordance with the precautionary principle, opportunities are seized there. Innovation is not banned or regulated before every conceivable negative impact can be completely negated. We do it the other way around: regulate and brake, and then intervene again with subsidies from taxpayers' money.

Retaining talent through a cultural change

We demand an innovation principle for Germany and Europe as well. This is the only way to initiate a cultural change in order to retain talent here. As long as order buttons are banned in Germany, we shouldn't be surprised that there is no such thing as a “German Amazon”. As long as politicians consider algorithms to be rocket science, they are not developed here either. As long as the Minister of Economic Affairs himself wants to intervene in the market, innovative start-ups stay away from this market.

The state must ensure that resourceful entrepreneurs have the opportunity to drive innovation forward instead of reaching into their feet. He must take off the team jersey and limit himself to the role of referee again.

The guest article was first published in the decision-maker briefing Tagesspiegel Background Digitization & KI. Register here and test it for free: https://background.tagesspiegel.de/digitalisierung

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