Europe risks losing AI startups: why chatbots are not very welcome here yet

Europe risks losing AI startups: why chatbots are not very welcome here yet
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       They say artificial intelligence will bring humanity to the new level of problem solving, allowing people to concentrate mostly on creative and really complex tasks instead of wasting time on recurring issues. Turns out, this scenario sounds a bit confusing. While the Americans are totally open to such evolution in the world of technology and production in general, Europeans are accepting those related changes quite slowly and reluctantly. They explain it by certain ethical issues, data privacy, market uncertainty and even fear of failure. All these fears and doubts connected with the artificial intelligence development have a significant influence on European startup scene.

Europe risks losing AI startups: why chatbots are not very welcome here yet


     Worth mentioning, most of the smartest and talented machine learning developers come from Europe. Moreover, startups are currently those few first-movers fighting for innovations to emerge, and their success in commercializing AI is greatly dependent on several factors. Firstly, AI startup companies need to partner with small innovative businesses in order to build prototypes and set experiments, since large companies are more known for late adoption of new technologies. Secondly, AI startups in Europe need positive media coverage, so that another generation of innovators and AI adopters could get involved in the process. And of course, like all startups, AI vendors need financial support. Which is why, if they do not receive a proper investment backing, many AI developers are very likely to migrate their businesses to the US. And this is totally unacceptable.

Europe risks losing AI startups: why chatbots are not very welcome here yet


     Today only the bravest companies have decided to try implementing chatbots in their business activities, justifying it by the trend of ubiquitous automation. The whole world is currently expecting chatbots market to grow exponentially, companies and experts discuss all possible variants of AI commercialization. Meanwhile, here in Europe, tech market players are not in a hurry to take some real actions in terms of AI development and promotion. Why?

1) fear of being replaced by robots at work, unemployment
     Europeans are very concerned about human employment, seeing AI as a potential competitor for a number of jobs. There is the certain sense in it, of course. However, according to Dr. Stuart Armstrong, an expert in the field of AI and an Oxford researcher, at the moment, robots and AI are far from being smart enough to replace humans and operate completely autonomously. It may also sound quite surprising, but 1 million industrial robots powered by AI created around 3 million job places in 2011 (International Federation of Robotics). These facts should be a good sign – people can actually cooperate with robots.

2) concerns about data privacy and cyber security
      Unlike counterparts from the US, Europeans treat their private data with extreme care, which was especially obvious when Facebook only appeared in the Old World. This can actually be very beneficial, since neglecting the simple rules of information security puts us in a vulnerable position nowadays. And unfortunately, one of the first issues arising within AI and chatbots projects is data privacy.

3) broad media coverage of failures in AI industry
     Somehow media sources in Europe ignore the wide range of benefits that chatbots can bring for businesses – reduced costs, time and complexity through automated conversations with customers. Europeans are rather well-informed of all the failures that recently emerged in AI industry: the unsuccessful experiment of Microsoft with the Tay chatbot, Tesla’s self-driving car accidents, the impersonality of numerous chat bots.

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