EU Falls Behind China and the USA in AI and Blockchain
The European Union's attempts to catch up with the main two superpowers in artificial intelligence and blockchain that are China and the United States look set to be prevented by an investment shortfall of as much as 10 billion euros - $12 billion – every year. This is according to the European Investment Bank (EIB) as revealed on June 1st.
The EIB, which is the EU's lending arm, says while the United States and China together account for more than 80% of the 25 billion euros of annual equity investments in both technologies, the EU’s 27 countries combined contributed just 1.75 billion euros - or 7% of the total.
It cites the importance of both Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain and both their potential to reinvent the sectors hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as financial services, healthcare and business intelligence, in order to boost the bloc's economic resilience and recovery.
'Governments in Europe are substantially underinvesting in AI'
The bank said in a report that companies and governments in Europe are substantially underinvesting in Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain in comparison to other leading regions and that it has become clear that the European Union struggles to translate its scientific excellence into business application and economic success.
It also estimates an annual investment gap of between five and 10 billion euros in both of these technologies.
The EIB adds that its access to finance may become more challenging in the short run, as a result of market conditions, which could potentially widen the investment gap further. According to the EIB, the EU and its member states’ support schemes could plug part of the gap, but also that private markets will clearly need to contribute the balance.
There are several factors indicated for the EU's investment shortfall, among them are European funds' limited appetite due to high upfront investment needs, a lack of knowledge and the limited specialisation of EU venture capital funds in both Artificial Intelligence, as well as Blockchain.
Discord buys Sentropy to fight against hate and abuse online
Discord, a popular chat app, has acquired the software company Sentropy to bolster its efforts to combat online abuse and harassment. Sentropy, monitors online networks for abuse and harassment, then offers users a way to block problematic people and filter out messages they don’t want to see.
First launched in 2015 and currently boasting 150 million monthly active users, Discord plans to integrate Sentropy’s own products into its existing toolkit and the company will also bring the smaller company’s leadership group aboard. Discord currently uses a “multilevel” approach to moderation, and a Trust and Safety (T&S) team dedicated to protecting users and shaping content moderation policies comprised 15% of Discord’s workforce as of May 2020.
“T&S tech and processes should not be used as a competitive advantage,” Sentropy CEO John Redgrave said in a blog post on the announcement. “We all deserve digital and physical safety, and moderators deserve better tooling to help them do one of the hardest jobs online more effectively and with fewer harmful impacts.”
Cleanse platforms of online harassment and abuse
Redgrave elaborated on the company’s natural connection with Discord: “Discord represents the next generation of social companies — a generation where users are not the product to be sold, but the engine of connectivity, creativity, and growth. In this model, user privacy and user safety are essential product features, not an afterthought. The success of this model depends upon building next-generation Trust and Safety into every product. We don’t take this responsibility lightly and are humbled to work at the scale of Discord and with Discord’s resources to increase the depth of our impact.”
Sentropy launched out of stealth last summer with an AI system designed to detect, track and cleanse platforms of online harassment and abuse. The company emerged then with $13 million in funding from notable backers including Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and his VC firm Initialized Capital, King River Capital, Horizons Ventures and Playground Global.
“We are excited to help Discord decide how we can most effectively share with the rest of the Internet the best practices, technology, and tools that we’ve developed to protect our own communities,” Redgrave said.