AI Policy – Germany

The following description of AI policy in Germany provides a snapshot summary of some previous and ongoing initiatives throughout the country. It is regularly updated as feasible, but it is not intended to be comprehensive. 

As of February 2020, there is also extensive information, data, and graphics about German AI policy available at the OECD AI Policy Observatory.

On November 15, 2018, the German Government adopted a national AI strategy (available to download here) and earmarked €3 billion for investment in AI research and development. The strategy is based on the Federal Cabinet’s Key Points for a Strategy on Artificial Intelligence, and was developed by the Economic Affairs Ministry, the Research Ministry, and the Labour Ministry.

The strategy pursues the following three objectives:

  1. making Germany and Europe global leaders on the development and use of AI technologies and securing Germany’s competitiveness in the future,
  2. safeguarding the responsible development and use of AI which serves the good of society, and
  3. integrating AI in society in ethical, legal, cultural and institutional terms in the context of a broad societal dialogue and active political measures.

The German government also tasked a new Data Ethics Commission with producing guidelines for the development and use of AI. These reports were released in October 2019. The Commission called for AI to be designed safely and securely, to respect people’s rights and freedoms, protect democracy, and avoid bias and discrimination. It also argues that lethal autonomous weapons should be banned outright.

Previously, the German Institute for Innovation and Technology within the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy undertook a study on the Potential of AI for Industry (PAICE) in Germany, which found that AI will add approximately €32 billion to Germany’s manufacturing output over the next five years.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) also launched a government aid campaign in the field of machine learning in 2017. This was intended to improve training and professional education in machine learning, to support basic research, and to create internationally visible machine learning competence centres throughout the country. For example, BMBF funded The Platform Learning Systems, which is an expert platform for AI running from 2017 to 2022. Since 2015, BMBF has also funded the Automated and Networked Driving project.

In June 2017, the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) published ethical guidelines for self-driving cars in a report titled, “Ethics Commission: Automated and Connected Driving,” which defined 20 ethical rules for automated and connected vehicular traffic.

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