AI in general 1, 2018

Artificial Intelligence Mission Austria 2030 (AIM AT 2030)

Austria

Actors

Austrian Federal Ministry of Transportation, Innovation and Technology, Austrian Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs

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accountability

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In November 2018 two Austrian ministers called on the Council of Ministers to support the development of a national AI strategy. The Council of Ministers voted in favour of the proposal, which would also support the realisation of the aims outlined in the Austrian Digital Roadmap, presented in January 2017. The roadmap laid out a comprehensive vision of digital modernisation until 2025 mentioning the need to consider the ethical and regulatory questions surrounding AI.

The proposal frames the need for a national strategy as a matter of preserving the country’s “digital sovereignty”, and as a way of capitalising on the opportunities, while avoiding the risks and unforeseen consequences of broad AI adoption. The working title of the strategy is Artificial Intelligence Mission Austria 2030 (AIM AT 2030) and it is meant to establish the conditions for responsible AI in the service of prosperity. The strategy should be developed in close cooperation with the Council on Robotics and AI, involving a broad range of societal stakeholders, and paying due attention to the principle of subsidiarity. The call highlights both the economic benefits that AI might bring about as well as its disruptive effects on the job market, its potential to threaten democratic processes and to influence public opinion through automated and targeted disinformation campaigns.

The proposal also formulates suggestions for what the aims of the strategy should be. It reiterates the importance of achieving digital sovereignty and independence from global monopolies through the application of AI for the public good, informed by core European values, like human dignity, respect for privacy and equality. It should support the development of measures to quickly respond to risks and negative developments, as well as inform the creation of a legal framework in accordance with European requirements. The strategy should help elevate AI R&D in a few niche areas and in basic science to a world class level, and support the country’s global competitiveness in terms of innovation, supporting SMEs in particular. The strategy should also address public engagement measures and the application of AI in the domains of medicine, national security, policing and government services.

The proposal advised the creation of 7 working groups, with representatives from the relevant ministries, government agencies, academic, industrial and civil society stakeholders. The 7 working groups are:

[ul]
  • Research and Innovation (Federal Ministry of Transportation, Innovation and Technology)

  • AI in the public sector (Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs)

  • AI for the industry and the economy (Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs)

  • Society, ethics and the labour market (Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs)

  • Infrastructure for industrial leadership (Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection)

  • AI governance, security and the law (Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs)

  • Qualifications and education (Federal Ministry of Education)

  • [/ul]

    The Federal Ministry of Transportation, Innovation and Technology and the Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs, which led the proposal, also produced a short document surveying the state-of-the-art in AI technology development, describing the main ethical issues and providing an overview of the state of the AI industry in Austria. The overview expressed a commitment to a humane and socially acceptable development of artificial intelligence, calling for the proactive engagement of the whole of society.

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