No European Union without Artificial Intelligence.
As I’ve been wandering through Greece these past few days, I’ve realized that I’m just now truly seeing the 2008 crisis and its after-effects for the first time. I’d been largely insulated from them.
And, strolling about, I’ve been wondering if this financial crisis has mutated into a technological crisis. Or maybe it’s the other way around?
It isn’t just Athens’ bank accounts or stores – some of which still sometimes don’t have certain merchandise – that were affected.
It’s more than that. It seems to me there’s a digital divide forming, even within the continent. Fewer public services are available online. The population is using less-powerful terminals. And, beyond that, the startup movement isn’t as strong here as it is in Paris or Berlin.
There are 599 Greek startups on Angel List, while there are 5120 in France and 5761 in Germany. There are 60% more startups per million inhabitants in the West even though we know that crises are favourable times to create businesses and take risks.
In short, the country’s lack of financing translates into a dramatic lack of productivity gains and innovation. And it’s all happening just as the world enters a new era, just at the time when it’s most needed. This divide will only grow—and rapidly at that.
This Greek situation, which only appears to be more dramatic than what’s happening in the rest of Europe, shows me that the verdict has been handed down for our continent: the world will be dominated by knowledge, whether technological, medical, military or otherwise.
The narrow views of the continent’s politicians, as well as its entrepreneurs and investors, could now drag all of Europe back to feudalism.
France, continuing in its old cautious ways, fostered a culture of fear by opting to condemn potential scientific opportunities in extraordinarily promising areas.
As a result, our country has completely forbidden GMOs in agriculture yet applauds vigorously with tears in our eyes when a medical team saves a single child using modified cells. What’s very dangerous for plants poses no problems when it comes to transferring it to a child. And just think, we could perhaps have saved millions.
We Europeans are no longer the conquering innovators of the 20th century. We’re the Athenians, bowing before Rome. We’re Rome, bowing before the barbarians.
As usual, I’m only talking to entrepreneurs and innovators, with a constant desire for mutual support. But in my opinion, this topic should interest everyone.
In the here and now, Europeans are about to conclusively lose the technology battle—something it will take centuries to come back from.
As Laurent Alexandre says better than me, the consequences will be dramatic, perhaps even comparable to those that accompanied the fall of the Roman Empire: a complete redistribution of power. Why?
Well, simply because the topic at hand, the infamous artificial intelligence, has an enormous impact on our ability to understand the world thanks to innovative processing capacities that grow at amazing speeds (exponential improvements in software and hardware…only human intelligence grows at an incremental rate).
These data analysis capabilities have limitless potential in every sector, including health, agriculture, defence, business and industry.
Many of us have gotten the message. But there’s still a whiff of elemental fear and profound incomprehension circulating.
What’s going on? It’s the amount of available national intelligence! Just like in the past, just like it’s always been.
If data processing capacities increase exponentially in one country and incrementally in another, the latter country will likely sink faster than we’ve ever seen before in the history of humanity.
It will be subjected to attempted coups on social networks from abroad (we’ve already seen warning signs), its industry will flounder and the country will become dependent in every area.
This is exactly what’s happening in Greece. Europe wasn’t capable of understanding that what it was experiencing was related to the level of knowledge and the amount of technology available in the country to make up for its lack of productivity. It hasn’t recovered yet. It won’t rebound until it’s hit rock bottom.
Many other countries are in the same situation. Maybe all of them, in fact. France, Germany, Sweden…in all these countries, nearly 100% of industrial production is controlled by an American OS, with Chinese and American online distribution channels that are also built on American and Chinese algorithms.
European-style design will be subjugated by technological platforms, whether Android or some other. It will be assimilated as major tech companies use it. Every other sector will follow suit. Like wine that will be produced by aquaponic methods in greenhouses with water inputs carrying the exact amount of minerals absorbed by an average vine in 1982 or 1961 (the best Bordeaux vintages) in the Médoc region. But if I want, I can make you an Haut Brion 90. It tastes pretty decent and the Data to produce it will exist.
What can European entrepreneurs do?
In this context, entrepreneurs and innovators have to think quickly about their options. Their strategic options are becoming clearer, but timelines are getting shorter. The worldwide hotspot for Data is in California and will soon be in China (around 15 unicorns this year, nearly a quarter of the total). The capacity to finance their innovations is much higher in the U.S. than anywhere else. At some time or another, our innovators will have to leave.
Staying in Europe means choosing restraints: GDPR, lack of capital, insufficiently strategic thinking, the toxicity and negativity in the environment, weak product and marketing design capacities, weak financing, dogmatism and various fears. The debate between Bruno Lemaire and Laurent Alexandre is revealing, even in the Macron era.
Let’s not hold our breath in hopes that France will quickly launch a cryptocurrency for its e-resident entrepreneurs, backed by the annual production of grands crus.
But this is exactly what Greece should do as fast as it can: rebuild itself on solid bases and make them ultra-digital. Besides the Estonians, no ministries of foreign affairs and no European finance ministries are capable of understanding that e-residency is surprisingly akin to territorial waters or national airspace and that in these new spaces – Cloud 3.0 – supremacy will be gained through Artificial Intelligence.
I should stop there with these observations and cease my lamenting…one might think I’m French or something. In reality, it’s not just European legal framework that causes problems.
It’s also – and mainly – us, the continent’s entrepreneurs. We’re not at the top of our game either. We lack creative freedom; we struggle with designing processes, with simplifying and executing our ideas. And we’re not there yet on the amount of work we do compared to an Asian or an American.
Intelligence won’t be any more a commodity going forward than it has been in the past.