July 2018

Europe boosts investment in AI and sets ethical guidelines

The European Commission has presented a series of measures to put Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the service of Europeans and boost Europe’s competitiveness in this field.

The Commission is proposing a three-pronged approach to increase public and private investment in AI, prepare for socio-economic changes, and ensure an appropriate ethical and legal framework. This follows European leaders’ call for a European approach on AI.

Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip said: "Just as the steam engine and electricity did in the past, AI is transforming our world. It presents new challenges that Europe should meet together in order for AI to succeed and work for everyone."

Boosting financial support

Europe has world-class researchers, laboratories and start-ups in the field of AI. The EU is also strong in robotics and has world-leading transport, healthcare and manufacturing sectors that should adopt AI to remain competitive. However, fierce international competition requires coordinated action for the EU to be at the forefront of AI development.

The EU (public and private sectors) should increase investments in AI research and innovation by at least €20 billion between now and the end of 2020. To support these efforts, the Commission is increasing its investment to €1.5 billion for the period 2018-2020 under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.

Additionally, the European Fund for Strategic Investments will be mobilised to provide companies and start-ups with additional support to invest in AI.

Preparing for socio-economic changes

With the dawn of Artificial Intelligence, many jobs will be created, but others will disappear and most will be transformed. This is why the Commission is encouraging member states to modernize their education and training systems and support labor market transitions. The Commission will support business-education partnerships to attract and keep more AI talent in Europe, set up dedicated training schemes with financial support from the European Social Fund, and support digital skills, competencies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), entrepreneurship and creativity. Proposals under the EU’s next multiannual financial framework (2021-2027) will include strengthened support for training in advanced digital skills, including AI-specific expertise.

Ensuring ethical and legal frameworks

As with any transformative technology, AI may raise new ethical and legal questions, related to liability or potentially biased decision-making. New technologies should not mean new values. The Commission will present ethical guidelines on AI development by the end of 2018, based on the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, taking into account principles such as data protection and transparency, and building on the work of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies. To help develop these guidelines, the Commission will bring together all relevant stakeholders in a European AI Alliance. By mid-2019 the Commission will also issue guidance on the interpretation of the Product Liability Directive in the light of technological developments, to ensure legal clarity for consumers and producers in case of defective products.

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