Google and Facebook are sucking out “technology gray” out of Europe

Tram Ho

Europe, too focused on protecting the old metallurgical industry, did not realize that there was a great evacuation of technology startups to the United States.

Last week, the FT news site reported that a group of Britain’s most famous quantum computing scientists had quietly left for Silicon Valley to create a startup called PsiQ. What attracts them is the huge amount of venture capital that cannot be obtained in Europe.

American venture capital company is Playground, founded by Android father Andy Rubin, has invested in this new company. Considering Playground’s performance table – two of the company’s most successful investments were sold to Inc – PsiQ is likely to become a part of his gold trophy collection. Technology giant on a day not far away.

This is not the first time that the most intelligent and promising technology startups in Europe are swallowed up by big guys in Silicon Valley and Seattle. DeepMind of the UK (specializing in artificial intelligence), French Moodstocks (the developer of image recognition technology with machine learning) and German Fayteq (developing technology to remove objects from video) has been Acquired by Google.

Every time such a startup is sold, Europe loses an advantage in the race to attract global talent. About 562 European startups were acquired by US companies from 2012 to 2016, accounting for 44%, according to Mind the Bridge. Economist or Hal Varian of Google said one of the big reasons American companies buy European startups is to “steal” all of the startups’ engineers in one go.

To make it easier to visualize the scarcity of these human resources, imagine the global talent pool in the field of AI – ” the core technology of our time “, according to Microsoft CEO – less noticeable. dynamic, only about 205,000 people. Germany and England are two of the top 5 centers of talent for AI thanks to the excellence of the training of universities here. But these two countries are struggling to find a way to keep these extremely valuable people from working for their home countries.

The main concern for this problem of brain drain is not national pride or national flag colors; That is power. It all revolves around who controls the huge and politically sensitive data that AI relies on to develop.

The acquisition of DeepMind by Google is a typical example. Although this startup said it would protect its autonomy and continue to comply with the moral rules set after the merger, that promise soon “flew by the wind”. DeepMind’s reputation was severely affected when it was discovered that they broke data privacy laws when cooperating with the UK National Health Service in 2017. Google’s next move, Separating DeepMind’s medical department into a separate unit, it made the campaigners privacy to boil blood, causing internal stress, and as a result many employees of this department had to leave.

European politicians seem quite complacent when faced with problems like this. They found money flowing from Silicon Valley as an economic bargain and praising investments as if they were a norm. In France, the ministers speak proudly of Google and Facebook research laboratories in Paris, which attract people from outstanding professors to students pursuing a doctorate. French digital affairs minister Cedric O said last week that the US acquisition of French startups was “no problem”, provided the acquired technology was not a key category.

It is a short-sighted vision, showing that European industrial policymakers are still trying to protect industrial manufacturers that existed from the last decade (not strange, because they are fields of creation). out a huge amount of jobs). Instead of taking care of mechanical engineering companies like Alstom SA and Siemens AG, France and Germany should be smarter and think more about DeepMind, Moodstocks and Fayteq – or about the German robot company Kuka has just been sold to China. .

Using wages to improve salary for researchers is a solution, as well as further strengthening public-private cooperation. Europe also needs to consider the issue of antitrust in the field of technology more strongly – even when it aims to protect national interests. Finally, Europe should consider establishing a version of its own DARPA (DARPA is the Pentagon, which fosters emerging technologies for military service).

The great European evacuation of AI and advanced technology will continue until political leaders seriously consider the issue, as they are doing with the metallurgical industry. Unless they wake up early, they will surely receive a loss in a dramatic talent race.

Reference: Bloomberg

Tan Minh

Young Intellectuals

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