The European Commission puts forward a European approach to Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
The European Commission is increasing its annual investments in AI by 70% under the research and innovation programme Horizon 2020. It will reach EUR 1.5 billion for the period 2018-2020. It will connect and strengthen AI research centres across Europe. It will also support the development of an “AI-on-demand platform” that will provide access to relevant AI resources in the EU for all users and support the development of AI applications in key sectors.
Last Wednesday, the Commission unveiled its ideas and actions for a digital transformation that works for all, reflecting the best of Europe: open, fair, diverse, democratic and confident. It presents a European society powered by digital solutions that put people first, opens up new opportunities for businesses, and boosts the development of trustworthy technology to foster an open and democratic society and a vibrant and sustainable economy.
Digital is a key enabler to fighting climate change and achieving the green transition. The European data strategy and the policy options to ensure the human-centric development of Artificial Intelligence presented on Wednesday are the first steps towards achieving these goals.
The President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “We are presenting our ambition to shape Europe’s digital future. It covers everything from cybersecurity to critical infrastructures, digital education to skills, democracy to media. I want that digital Europe reflects the best of Europe – open, fair, diverse, democratic, and confident.”
Executive Vice-President for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, Margrethe Vestager, said: “We want every citizen, every employee, every business to stand a fair chance to reap the benefits of digitalisation. Whether that means driving more safely or polluting less thanks to connected cars; or even saving lives with AI-driven medical imagery that allows doctors to detect diseases earlier than ever before.”
Europe as a trusted digital leader
Digital technologies, if used with purpose, will benefit citizens and businesses in many ways. Over the next five years, the Commission will focus on three key objectives in digital: Technology that works for people, a fair and competitive economy; and an open, democratic and sustainable society.
Europe as a leader in trustworthy Artificial Intelligence
In its White Paper presented last Wednesday, the Commission envisages a framework for trustworthy Artificial Intelligence, based on excellence and trust. In partnership with the private and the public sector, the aim is to mobilise resources along the entire value chain and to create the right incentives to accelerate deployment of AI, including by smaller and medium-sized enterprises. This includes working with Member States and the research community, to attract and keep talent.
As AI systems can be complex and bear significant risks in certain contexts, building trust is essential. Clear rules need to address high-risk AI systems without putting too much burden on less risky ones. Strict EU rules for consumer protection, to address unfair commercial practices and to protect personal data and privacy, continue to apply.
For high-risk cases, such as in health, policing, or transport, AI systems should be transparent, traceable and guarantee human oversight. Authorities should be able to test and certify the data used by algorithms as they check cosmetics, cars or toys. Unbiased data is needed to train high-risk systems to perform properly, and to ensure respect of fundamental rights, in particular non-discrimination.
While today, the use of facial recognition for remote biometric identification is generally prohibited and can only be used in exceptional, duly justified and proportionate cases, subject to safeguards and based of EU or national law, the Commission wants to launch a broad debate about which circumstances, if any, might justify such exceptions.
For lower risk AI applications, the Commission envisages a voluntary labelling scheme if they apply higher standards.
Europe as a leader in the data economy
The objective of the European data strategy is to make sure the EU becomes a role model and a leader for a society empowered by data. For this, it aims at setting up a true European data space, a single market for data, to unlock unused data, allowing it to flow freely within the European Union and across sectors for the benefit of businesses, researchers and public administrations. Citizens, businesses and organisations should be empowered to make better decisions based on insights gleaned from non-personal data. That data should be available to all, whether public or private, start-up or giant.
Second, the Commission aims at supporting the development of the technological systems and the next generation of infrastructures, which will enable the EU and all the actors to grasp the opportunities of the data economy. It will contribute to investments in European High Impact projects on European data spaces and trustworthy and energy efficient cloud infrastructures.
Finally, it will launch sectoral specific actions, to build European data spaces in for instance industrial manufacturing, the green deal, mobility or health.
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