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'Better off thanks to China': German companies double down on resurgent giant

The Japan Times

BERLIN – German industrial robot-maker Hahn Automation plans to invest millions of euros in new factories in China over the next three years, keen to capitalize on an economy that's rebounding more rapidly than others from the COVID-19 crisis. "If we want to grow with the Chinese market, we have to manufacture on the ground," Chief Executive Frank Konrad said of the investment drive, intended to skirt Chinese export hurdles in what Beijing views as a strategic sector. "Our goal is to make up to 25% of our sales in China by 2025," he said, up from roughly 10% now. But while the Chinese recovery may be good news for companies like Hahn, it is complicating efforts by Chancellor Angela Merkel's government to diversify trade relations and become less dependent on Asia's rising superpower. Despite Berlin's concerns, German industry is deepening ties with China, which battled the pandemic with stricter measures than other countries, moved out of a first lockdown earlier and saw demand rebound more quickly. Olaf Kiesewetter, CEO of car sensor supplier UST in Thuringia in eastern Germany, shares the same ambition of making 25% of sales in China.

Fetch.AI launches blockchain-based AI smart-city infrastructure in Munich


Blockchain can be used to decentralize federated learning algorithms so that the benefits of collective machine learning are shared across the multiple owners of data. And, in Munich, it is helping commuters efficiently find a parking space. Cambridge, UK-based artificial intelligence lab is a building a decentralized machine learning network for smart infrastructures. In partnership with Munich, Germany-based enterprise blockchain solutions provider Datarella, it has announced the implementation of its smart city infrastructure trials In Munich, Germany. The smart city zoning trial in Munich, called M-Zone will launch in the Connex Buildings and will use multi-agent blockchain-based AI services to optimise parking resources in commercial real estate properties in the city center to reduce the city's carbon footprint.

How to make money with AI in 2030


No conference on artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning or robotics would be complete without its fair share of technologists, programmers and engineers. But scan the list of attendees at the 2020 Rise of AI Summit, a hybrid (digital and physical) event this week in Berlin (November 17-18, 2020) and the number of people from health insurance companies, banks and venture capitalists is astonishing. As one of the founders of the event, CEO of Asgard Capital, Fabian Westerheide, said in his opening remarks on "The Next Decade of AI, we are in a'renaissance' of the technology." Westerheide says we're seeing a "refurbishment of ideas from the 1960s, 70s and 80s," combined with the amount of data we have now and today's processing power. He calls it "old ideas, new execution, and new capital."

News - Research in Germany


Sartorius will sponsor a new laboratory for cell analysis using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and endow a junior professorship for Computational Cell Analytics at the University of Göttingen. The laboratory is located at the Campus Institute Data Science (CIDAS), where the focus of the new chair's research will also sit. Furthermore, Sartorius will equip the laboratory with additional technical equipment. A strategic partnership between Sartorius and the University of Göttingen has existed since 2014; Sartorius is an Associate Partner of the Göttingen Campus, the association of ten scientific institutions in Göttingen. Sartorius is endowing this professorship to further strengthen and focus the University of Göttingen's special scientific excellence in this field.

These Factory Robots May Point the Way to 5G's Future


Perhaps humans weren't meant to be the early adopters of 5G. At Bosch Rexroth in Bavaria, Germany, wheeled robots that zoom between manufacturing machines and robotic arms that help hoist and connect components come with an unusual new feature--5G modems. The division of Bosch that sells advanced manufacturing equipment sees 5G as a big future trend--and not just for gaming or superfast movie downloads. The company has developed a modular production line where every piece of equipment--plus high-precision power tools--is connected via 5G. The new wireless standard may seem underwhelming so far to smartphone users, but it's gaining followers at some factories, office compounds, and remote workspaces, with good reason.

Does Palantir See Too Much?


On a bright Tuesday afternoon in Paris last fall, Alex Karp was doing tai chi in the Luxembourg Gardens. He wore blue Nike sweatpants, a blue polo shirt, orange socks, charcoal-gray sneakers and white-framed sunglasses with red accents that inevitably drew attention to his most distinctive feature, a tangle of salt-and-pepper hair rising skyward from his head. Under a canopy of chestnut trees, Karp executed a series of elegant tai chi and qigong moves, shifting the pebbles and dirt gently under his feet as he twisted and turned. A group of teenagers watched in amusement. After 10 minutes or so, Karp walked to a nearby bench, where one of his bodyguards had placed a cooler and what looked like an instrument case. The cooler held several bottles of the nonalcoholic German beer that Karp drinks (he would crack one open on the way out of the park). The case contained a wooden sword, which he needed for the next part of his routine. "I brought a real sword the last time I was here, but the police stopped me," he said matter of factly as he began slashing the air with the sword. Those gendarmes evidently didn't know that Karp, far from being a public menace, was the chief executive of an American company whose software has been deployed on behalf of public safety in France. The company, Palantir Technologies, is named after the seeing stones in J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings." Its two primary software programs, Gotham and Foundry, gather and process vast quantities of data in order to identify connections, patterns and trends that might elude human analysts. The stated goal of all this "data integration" is to help organizations make better decisions, and many of Palantir's customers consider its technology to be transformative. Karp claims a loftier ambition, however. "We built our company to support the West," he says. To that end, Palantir says it does not do business in countries that it considers adversarial to the U.S. and its allies, namely China and Russia. In the company's early days, Palantir employees, invoking Tolkien, described their mission as "saving the shire." The brainchild of Karp's friend and law-school classmate Peter Thiel, Palantir was founded in 2003. It was seeded in part by In-Q-Tel, the C.I.A.'s venture-capital arm, and the C.I.A. remains a client. Palantir's technology is rumored to have been used to track down Osama bin Laden -- a claim that has never been verified but one that has conferred an enduring mystique on the company. These days, Palantir is used for counterterrorism by a number of Western governments.

Germany Wants EU to Double Down on Idea That Would Hinder the AI Economy


The European Commission has proposed strictly regulating AI systems that meet two conditions: they are used in sectors and in a manner where significant risks are likely to occur. But Germany has called on the EU to abandon its proposal, arguing that tougher rules should apply for all sectors that use AI and even for AI applications that do not pose a significant risk. This is not the first time that Germany has called for stricter regulation of AI, but as Germany has taken over the EU Council presidency, its perspective is likely to have more influence on the Commission's regulatory choices. But following Germany's advice would have far-reaching negative implications for innovation in the EU. First, imposing stricter rules on lower-risk AI systems would achieve little in the way of consumer protection because these systems already pose little risk to consumers and existing consumer protection laws apply. It does not make sense to require AI-powered dating apps to undergo the same level of scrutiny as credit scoring tools.

RingCentral Launches in Germany with New Data Center and Residency


RingCentral, Inc., a leading provider of global enterprise cloud communications, collaboration, and contact center solutions, announced that its unified communications platform including team messaging, video meetings, and cloud phone system will now be available in Germany with a new data center in Frankfurt, and a new office in Hamburg, Germany. As RingCentral continues its global expansion efforts, Germany remains a key strategic location for the company. The new data center will also give users access to local phone numbers and emergency services in compliance with local laws and regulations. RingCentral will offer customers local data storage, the ability to register endpoints in-country and keep voice and video call media local. The new datacenter will also give users access to local phone numbers and emergency services in compliance with local laws and regulations.

Microsoft details how it improved Bing's autosuggest recommendations with AI


Earlier in the year, Microsoft detailed the ways Bing has benefited from AI at Scale, an initiative to apply large-scale AI and supercomputing to language processing across Microsoft's apps, services, and managed products. AI at Scale chiefly bolstered the search engine's ability to directly answer questions and generate image captions, but in a blog post today, Microsoft says it's led to Bing improvements in things like autocomplete suggestions. Bing and its competitors have a lot to gain from AI and machine learning, particularly in the natural language domain. Search engines need to comprehend queries no matter how confusingly they're worded, but they've historically struggled with this, leaning on Boolean operators (simple words like "and," "or," and "not") as band-aids to combine or exclude search terms. But with the advent of AI like Google's BERT and Microsoft's Turing family, search engines have the potential to become more conversationally and contextually aware than perhaps ever before.

The Musk Method: Learn from partners then go it alone

The Japan Times

Elon Musk is hailed as an innovator and disrupter who went from knowing next to nothing about building cars to running the world's most valuable automaker in the space of 16 years. But his record shows he is more of a fast learner who forged alliances with firms that had technology Tesla lacked, hired some of their most talented people, and then powered through the boundaries that limited more risk-averse partners. Now, Musk and his team are preparing to outline new steps in Tesla's drive to become a more self-sufficient company less reliant on suppliers at its "Battery Day" event on Tuesday. Musk has been dropping hints for months that significant advances in technology will be announced as Tesla strives to produce the low-cost, long-lasting batteries that could put its electric cars on a more equal footing with cheaper gasoline vehicles. New battery cell designs, chemistries and manufacturing processes are just some of the developments that would allow Tesla to reduce its reliance on its long-time battery partner, Japan's Panasonic, people familiar with the situation said.