AI in general 1, 2018

Artificial Intelligence for Europe

European Union


European Commission


Accountability, Bias, Labour market effects, Interoperability, Liability, Investment,


This Communication from the European Commission sets out a European initiative on AI, that is meant to boost the European Union’s technological and industrial capacity and uptake of AI, prepare for the socio-economic changes that AI adoption will bring, and provide an appropriate legal and ethical framework.
AI is described as a transformational technology that requires a coordinated approach and a solid European framework because the way societies approach AI will define the world people get to live in. Drawing on its strong foundations in values, the EU should lead the way in developing “AI for good and for all.” Unique advantages of the EU are seen in its strong research and startup base, leading industry, the Digital Single Market with common rules, and a large amount of industrial, research and public sector data to build AI applications on.
The aim of a European approach to AI is to “maximise the impact of investments at EU and national levels, encourage synergies and cooperation across the EU, exchange best practices and collectively define the way forward to ensure that the EU as a whole can compete globally.”
Increasing investment
In order to achieve this, the level of public and private investment in AI R&D must reach €20 billion by 2020 in the EU as a whole, up from the 2017 level of €4-5 billion. This level of annual investment should be maintained in the decade from 2020. The Commission will increase its funding by around 70% and it is expected that Member States and the private sector also increase their investments. The Commission will support both basic and industrial research in key areas such as health, connected and automated driving, agriculture, manufacturing, energy, next generation internet technologies, security and public administrations. These efforts will be underpinned by the Commission’s commitment to responsible research and innovation.
The Commission will also support AI excellence centres to facilitate networking and collaboration and will launch an “AI-on-demand” platform to ease access of all potential users to AI solutions. The platform will host a knowledge base and provide access to datasets, algorithms, and cloud computing facilities. Access to the platform will be rolled out through the existing network of Digital Innovation Hubs and dedicated AI hubs will be established.
The Digital Innovation Hubs will also serve as the basis for setting up a series of testing and experimentation infrastructures for AI products and services, which can help to make products market-ready, ensure compliance with standards and regulations and improve security. This approach also allows policymakers to learn about the technologies and co-develop suitable legal frameworks.
Beyond 2020 it will be possible to upgrade the network of AI excellence centres, pursue R&D in explainable AI, unsupervised ML and energy efficiency, as well as launch additional testing and experimentation facilities and regulatory sandboxes, co-invest in AI with Member States, explore join innovation procurement for AI use and development, and for a support centre for data sharing linked to the AI-on-demand platform.
With regard to making more data available, the EU already has several initiatives, but further policies should encourage the opening up of privately held data while ensuring the protection of personal data. To advance this, a support centre for data sharing will offer legal and technical support.
Preparing for socio-economic changes
The strategy discusses the likely impacts of AI on the labour market and highlights three main challenges for Europe in this regard. First, to prepare society as a whole by developing basic digital skills and those uniquely human abilities which are unlikely to be automated, such as creativity, management and critical thinking. Second, to help workers currently in jobs that are likely to vanish or be fundamentally transformed due to AI and automation. Thirdly, the EU needs to train more AI specialists.
The EU seeks to ‘leave no one behind’ through adopting a human-centric, inclusive and anticipatory approach that focuses on identifying those roles that are at the highest risk of being automated and supporting people in those roles to acquire new skills. These dedicated retraining schemes will be supported by the European Social Fund and by the Member States. The Commission will also make efforts to anticipate the changes to the labour market and launch a pilot to predict training requirements for future competence profiles, and publish expert recommendations. The Commission will also support Digital Opportunity Traineeships and encourage business-education partnerships to attract AI talent.
In the next EU multiannual financial framework (2021-2027) the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund will address job loss resulting from automation and AI.
Ensuring an appropriate ethical and legal framework
With regard to the ethical and legal framework, the Treaty of the European Union, as well as the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, provide the foundations of the rights that need to be upheld and protected. The Commission will convene a group of experts and stakeholders to issue draft AI ethics guidelines, which build on these foundations. It will also issue guidance on the interpretation of the Product Liability Directive and publish a report by mid-2019 on broader issues around liability and safety in relation to AI, robotics and IoT. The Commission is also committed to supporting research on explainable AI to ensure that new technologies operate in a transparent and accountable fashion. It will implement a pilot on Algorithmic Awareness Building to support the design of policy measures related to automated decision-making. The Commission will also support consumer organisations and data protection supervising authorities.

Joining forces
Finally, on a joint European effort, the strategy advises all Member States to develop their own national strategies on AI. Cooperation on interoperability, legal harmonisation and the sharing of data sets and best practices is seen as the road to ensuring European competitiveness. The Commission will seek to facilitate dialogue among the Member States to develop a coordinated plan and it will monitor AI-related developments across the Member States.
A European AI Alliance is proposed as a broad, multi-stakeholder platform, which will work on all aspects of AI.
The Commission will continue to advance international discussions about AI in various fora like the G7/G20, UN and OECD and will promote the use of AI towards the solution of global challenges, in support of the Paris Climate Agreement and for the realisation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

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