The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has launched a strategic funding initiative in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). Projects from all areas of AI research are to be financed in various funding programmes in the coming years as part of the initiative. Funds totalling approximately EUR 90 million have been earmarked for this purpose.
The initiative demonstrates that the largest research funding organisation and central self-governing organisation for science and research in Germany has taken account of the fact that artificial intelligence techniques are increasingly becoming an integral part of the research process in many branches of science. The initiative addresses different areas of action: On the one hand, it highlights the need for top-level academic research in this area closely interlinking research on AI methods with basic research in the disciplines in which AI methods are increasingly being used. Examining important and fundamental research questions pertaining to philosophy, law and social sciences in the context of artificial intelligence in close cooperation with the affected research fields is also essential. Finally, success in the competition for the best researchers in this field plays an important role in terms of positioning Germany’s AI research landscape internationally.
The initial focus of the initiative will include the funding of independent junior research groups in the DFG's Emmy Noether Programme. These groups are expected to draw in the next generation of highly qualified researchers who focus on AI methods by opening up career options with a high level of autonomy at an early stage. Spread across three proposal rounds in successive years, up to 30 independent junior research groups will be established in the course of the initiative.
The second focus of the initiative will be the funding of up to eight Research Units to promote collaboration between researchers in the field of AI techniques and researchers from other disciplines. The aim of each Research Unit will be to establish links between a core research area of the respective institution and research in the field of AI methods by connecting topics and by supporting interdisciplinary cooperation. All research fields that use AI methods for the purpose of gaining scientific insights will be taken into account as will be those that examine overarching practical and theoretical scientific, epistemic, legal or sociological questions associated with the use of AI. There will be a special focus on creating and integrating professorships at the interface between AI methodology development and the respective research field.
Calls for proposals for the strategic funding initiative will be announced this year and the first funding decisions will be made in 2020.