Top 3 tech, startup and sustainability stories of the week, May 13rd – May 17th 2024

AI and sustainability are top 3 stories of this week, all from Europe

This past week has been full of AI. First, we had OpenAI and its new product that is called GPT-4o, “o” stands for “omni”. Secondly, we had Google I/0 in which the company claimed that it launched 100 new things.  You’ve heard all of them, so I’ll skip those things, leaving you 3 stories from Europe.

1-France raises AI investments from Microsoft and Amazon

 I read this story at The Next Web and it said France was bagging AI investments from Microsoft and Amazon.Let’s start with Microsoft and it plans to invest €4bn in AI infrastructure and employee training, Microsoft’s Vice chair and President Brad Smith said Le Figaro. As a part of the plan, Microsoft to support French startups in AI-supported technologies, building a datacenter in the French city of Mulhouse.

Next, we have Amazon and it is also planning to invest France’s AI scene, with over €1.2bn in its operations in the country. The planned investments to include the expansion of its logistics network and its cloud infrastructure in Paris to support further advancements in general artificial intelligence (GAI).

The above investments have been announced at Choose France Summit last week, securing €15bn in foreign investment an annual event that aims to promote the country’s economic and business attractiveness. (By the way I have a story here which is about La French Tech, a startup center promoting France as a startup facilitator)

France raises AI investments from Microsoft and Amazon (Image: The Next Web)

2-TSMC to start building its first European factory

TSMC will start building its first European facility in the fourth quarter of 2024. I read this story at Reuters and the facility will be located in Dresden, a German city. The cost of the investment is 11 billion dollar and Infineon, NXP and Robert Bosch will have 10% shares respectively. Let me add that the company is called ESMC, European Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. As a side note, the facility in Dresden will manufacture 22 nm chips. Those chips are will be used throughout cars to control windows, windshield wipers, brakes, sensors and more.

And finally, the facility is expected to open in 2027.

TSMC to start building its first European factory (Photo: Reuters)

3- AI makes crop production more sustainable

My third and final story is about sustainability and it’s coming from Germany.Today’s cultivation methods are threatening biodiversity, while the production of synthetic fertilizers produces greenhouse gases, and agricultural chemicals are polluting bodies of water and the environment. Most of these issues can be overcome by using more targeted methods. Other possibilities are to treat diseased crops individually and to only apply fertilizer where it is really necessary.

Drones monitoring fields for weeds and robots targeting and treating crop diseases may sound like science fiction but is actually happening already, at least on some experimental farms. Researchers from the PhenoRob Cluster of Excellence at the University of Bonn are working on driving forward the smart digitalization of agriculture and have now published a list of the research questions that will need to be tackled as a priority in the future. Their paper has appeared in the European Journal of Agronomy,” according to University of Bonn.

In their paper, the researchers from PhenoRob also use examples to demonstrate what current technologies are already capable of doing. For instance, a “digital twin” of areas under cultivation can be created and fed a steady stream of various kinds of data with the help of sensors, e.g. to detect root growth or the release of gaseous nitrogen compounds from the soil, Univerity of Bonn explained.  As a side note, “In the medium term, this will enable levels of nitrogen fertilizer being applied to be adapted to crops’ needs in real time depending on how nutrient-rich a particular spot is,” Professor Stachniss adds. In some places, therefore, the digital revolution in agriculture is already closer than one might think, added University of Bonn.

AI makes crop production more sustainable (Photo: Volker Lannert – University of Bonn)

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