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Germany is a gifted person with self-doubt

The skeptic is a champion from Germany.

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Germany is a gifted person with self-doubt

The skeptic is a champion from Germany. Arthur Schopenhauer warned that the new is seldom the good, since the good is only the new for a short time. In his time, in the 19th century, traveling "electrifiers" shocked people, Franklin invented the lightning rod, batteries were built. Electricity was the new force and revolutionized the world. Contemporaries must have found this unsettling.

The AI ​​software ChatGPT also acts like an (alarm) signal: skeptics are already calling for a speed limit for innovation, yes, an end for generative artificial intelligence is in the room. The bloated planned AI regulation from Brussels classifies text tools like ChatGPT as a high-risk technology - and thus unsettles start-ups, researchers and investors.

The balance between regulation and freedom of innovation has not yet been found. The White House also made adjustments and presented the “Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights” in autumn, a fundamental rights charter for the AI ​​age.

However, regulation alone does not create value. In the USA, government-related research institutes are awarding major contracts, China is investing billions in AI research, Israel has a brilliant start-up scene, India is considered a hotbed of talent, and African AI initiatives are now even being founded in London and Mainz. But we Germans first think of TÜV and DIN standards.

The state of Hesse and the VDE technology association presented the “AI Quality

Germans are heavily represented in AI teams around the world. Dresden expat Richard Socher was the first to build an AI search engine in Silicon Valley, Socher is courageous, recently he was in Munich. One who had studied with him teased: "If he talks to us Neanderthals, then business is probably not going that way over there."

German investors who have emigrated confirm that we have a "it doesn't work" mentality when they come from Silicon Valley. Germany is a gifted person with self-doubt. Jonas Andrulis, on the other hand, is confident, and he doesn't lack self-confidence. He was also one of the emigrants, temporarily. However, the industrial engineer and serial founder did not stay with Apple in the USA, where he worked as a manager in AI research.

In 2019 he founded the company Aleph Alpha in Heidelberg. He says there are numerous inquiries about AI made in Germany, and new partnerships are emerging. With research into AI safety, explainable AI, and large AI models for computer vision and text, the Alephs are on their own. Their Luminous AI system was the first in the world to understand not only language, but also images. The start-up is considered a beacon of hope in the German AI landscape.

Aleph Alpha is – alongside the Google subsidiary DeepMind – the only AI research and application company in Europe that can keep up with the best teams in the USA when it comes to developing large language models. It builds and researches in cooperation with technical universities and partners from industry.

The Luminous model series is as versatile as OpenAI's GPT-3 and twice as large with up to 300 billion parameters. In contrast to the US competition, the Heidelberg-based company strives for transparency and publishes key research results in a fully reproducible manner. Parts of it are open source as code and AI model.

A major difference is that the target group of the Heidelberger are not private individuals, but authorities, companies and public-private partnerships that work in areas with high security requirements - in the health sector, the financial sector or the judiciary - and their data is not a US machine want to trust.

European regulations, data protection and privacy protection are maintained, and customers retain control over their added value. Most of the development takes place in our own data center. According to Andrulis, there is no dependency for customers because the software runs in any environment.

The German is currently leading Aleph Alpha into the big third round of financing. He and his team of 50 employees won the "German AI Prize", which WELT awards every year, in 2021, they were nominated for the Founder's Prize, and according to "Business Insider", well-known international investors probably want 100 million US dollars in the next round of financing. Put dollars or more into the Baden company.

Aleph Alpha could be valued at up to $1 billion. Potentially a new AI unicorn – after DeepL, the second company in Germany whose value is estimated at at least one billion US dollars.

Compared to the 20 billion at OpenAI, Aleph Alpha's financing round looks modest. But the people of Heidelberg are ambitious and quick and clever. They already have their own AI high-performance data center in Bavaria, as well as an office in Berlin.

The mathematician Falk-Florian Henrich has chosen a different approach than the AI ​​generalist Andrulis. With his Berlin foundation Smart Steel Technologies (SST), he develops software that can significantly improve production processes in steelworks. In mid-February, the technology group Heraeus became the largest shareholder in SST with around 47 percent.

The AI-based programs automatically calculate real-time predictions and recommendations for optimizing the production process, such as the best possible temperature for liquid steel or optimal production planning. This allows steel manufacturers to work more efficiently, more environmentally friendly and more safely.

The target group accepts the SST offer. It has customers in Europe, North America and South America, including the steel companies Arcelor-Mittal and Vallourec. Henrich and his team of 50 software engineers, steel experts, mathematicians and physicists are internationally well-known in the industry and have a subsidiary in the USA. The operating system has hardly any competition.

Thanks to the machine data, SST will not come into conflict with the GDPR data protection regulation and the European AI regulation: Because when machines talk to machines and mathematicians moderate the machine talk, there are no ethical problems.

Research in Germany is extremely strong. It should more often lead to start-ups – on site. Doers like Falk-Florian Henrich and Jonas Andrulis attract skilled workers from abroad. Both strengthen the location and contribute to Europe remaining technologically sovereign. Germany is still considered a high-tech country. For once, don't belittle the new, but dare to be world class. Aleph Alpha and Smart Steel show how it's done.

Silke Hahn is the technology editor at the IT magazine "Heise".

"Everything on shares" is the daily stock exchange shot from the WELT business editorial team. Every morning from 7 a.m. with the financial journalists from WELT. For stock market experts and beginners. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Amazon Music and Deezer. Or directly via RSS feed.

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