Körber-Prize 2019

Image: Creative working atmosphere: The doctoral candidates Chaochao Lu and Arash Mehrjou program complex algorithms in their office.

»Machine intelligence needs not only data but above all heads.« BERNHARD SCHÖLKOPF 

As measured by the number of scientific publications on the topic of AI, Germany has already fallen behind in international comparison. »There are German coauthors for only 3% to 4% of the articles presented at top confer­ences,« Schölkopf says. A good 10 years earlier it was still 10%. China in particular is catching up. In 2017, 48% of all the funding for AI startups worldwide was invested there. In a Fortune list of the 100 leading AI startups there is not a single one from Germany.

»Whoever wants to secure themselves a leading position ­in AI in the medium term should,« says Schölkopf, »on the one hand make wide use of the AI methods that are avail­able today—by promoting startups, technology transfer, and applied research in Fraunhofer institutes and at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence. On the other hand, they should invest strategically in basic research since AI hotspots such as those in Silicon Valley or Cambridge develop at locations where there ­­is excellent basic research. The learning techniques of tomorrow are being discovered today. Machine intelligence needs not only data but above all heads.« For this reason, the company with the best self-driving cars will »not ­­be the one with the best patents or the best secrets, but that with the best engineers, the best machine-learning people.«

The ›Corner Room‹ at the MPI in Tübingen serves as a place of peace and reflection, as long as no one is grasping for the electric guitar.