Artificial intelligence (AI) is a trend these days. In this year alone, some one thousand startups were founded in this area and $7 billion has been invested, according to Christoph von der Malsburg. But in reality, little progress has actually been made, said the co-founder of the research fields of computer vision and self-organizing nerve networks. “There’s a blockade preventing us from seeing the way.”
The newly founded Mindfire foundation, on whose board Malsburg sits, wants to overcome this. Their new approach: getting the best people from around the world involved. “I believe in the power of networked talents,” its founder and chairman of the board Pascal Kaufmann said at the foundation’s launch at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich on Friday.
“By systematically uniting some of the smartest talents in the world, we are creating an inspiring atmosphere by giving rise to a super-organism constituted by talents around the globe, tailored to advance our understanding of natural and artificial intelligence,” added the co-founder of the Zurich startup Starmind.
This global collaboration is made possible by safeguarding the intellectual property of each participant by using an individual safety feature developed on the basis of blockchain technology. These ‘mindtokens’ are now patented and can be used to mark the ideas of participants, who receive voting rights but can also trade the tokens.
“Mindfire can thus guarantee that intellectual property will be treated properly,” board member Lukas Sieber said at the presentation in Zurich. As the tokens can also be traded, they represent an opportunity to create direct benefits for investors.
Mindifre is supported by companies and authorities in Switzerland, and its first partners include the city of Davos and the canton of Zurich, the electronic specialist Maxon Motor, as well as UBS and the private bank Maerki Baumann. There are already more than a million Swiss francs available, enough to secure the work of eight people for several months, Pascal Kaufmann said in Zurich.
“With Mindfire, we have the opportunity to actively shape our digital future,” said Rudolf Minsch on the launch of Mindfire. “We must aspire to place Switzerland as a research and business location at the heart of digital innovation,” said the head economist of the umbrella organization economiesuisse.
And as Sonja Wollkopf, director of the Greater Zurich Area AG, said: “Mindfire substantially contributes to elevate the Greater Zurich Area to the top tier of AI destinations by uniting the smartest minds globally in Davos.”
The first participants’ meeting is scheduled for May in Davos. Those interested can already apply to Mindfire's website.