Europe—not the US or China—publishes the most AI research papers

“The future needs France, Europe and China.”
“The future needs France, Europe and China.”
Image: Reuters/Charles Platiau
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The popular narrative around artificial intelligence research is that it’s mainly a war between China and the United States. Not so fast, says Europe.

New data released today (Dec. 12) by the AI Index, a project to track the advancement of artificial intelligence, shows a trend of Europe releasing more papers than either the US or China. The data was assembled from Scopus, a citation database owned by scientific publishing company Elsevier.

If the current trend continues, China will soon overtake Europe in the number of papers published. The number of papers out of China grew 17% in 2017, compared to a 13% increase in the US, and 8% in Europe.

Europe boasts top universities doing work in AI, such as Oxford, University College London, and ETH Zurich, in addition to being home to branches of tech companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. Alphabet’s DeepMind operates out of London, and French president Emmanuel Macron has been particularly bullish on AI in Europe. Since being elected in 2017, he has already laid out initiatives to bolster the amount of research and corporate AI stationed in France.

“I want to be part of this revolution and even to be one of its leaders. I want to frame the discussion at a global scale,” Macron told Wired earlier this year.

The AI Index report credits the huge 70% increase in Chinese AI papers in 2008 to a government program promoting long-term research in artificial intelligence through 2020.