Germany is reluctant to pay for a European ChatGPT – POLITICO
The LEAM (Large European AI Models) initiative wanted Germany to help fund its hoped-for European version of ChatGPT – but the government has other ideas.
“The banal problem is that the money is not there,” Jörg Bienert, president of the German AI Association, which is behind LEAM, told POLITICO. “It’s actually very sad because we’re not investing in our future at all right now,” he added.
LEAM is made up of scientists and researchers who want Europe to catch up in the race for artificial intelligence and not be stuck relying on foreign technology. The essence of their plan is the construction of a supercomputer dedicated to the construction of linguistic models, for an estimated cost between 300 and 400 million euros.
“We roughly estimate that we need 60-70% from the public sector as infrastructure investments,” or around 230 million euros, Bienert said. “We see these large models as a kind of public infrastructure…like a piece of highway.” And LEAM’s request would only be for “a few kilometres”.
In January, the group presented a feasibility study, proposing a public-private partnership that would finance the company with the state as the main investor. Without the federal government as a partner, however, it’s hard to get others on board, LEAM argues.
But the Economy Ministry, which funded the feasibility study and is LEAM’s most important partner in the federal government, is not committing to the money. Responding to a POLITICO inquiry, he said he was “currently still under intensive review” of how LEAM’s goals could be implemented and said he “expressly” supported the goals. of LEAM.
But the agenda of the Ministry of the Economy in recent months paints a different picture.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the ministry was absorbed in replacing Russian gas and modernizing the country’s heating systems. There was also a scandal involving the firing of a secretary of state on suspicion of hiring patronage, which caused a coalition crisis. “The topic of digital and AI is not happening at the highest level of this federal government in our view,” Bienert said.
While Germany is reluctant to invest, other European countries are beginning to act on their own.
In March, the UK presented plans to build its own so-called BritGPT. “Because AI needs computing power, I’m committing around £900 million in funding today… for an exascale supercomputer,” said UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.
France is also moving forward with the startup Mistral AI, which should raise nearly 100 million euros. But Europe still lags behind the US, where OpenAI alone has more than $10 billion in funding under its belt.