European Commission Announces AI Initiative04/25/2018On April 25, 2018, the European Commission announced plans for an ambitious European artificial intelligence initiative to take shape over the course of the year. Through this initiative, the Commission aims to boost the EU’s capacity for and uptake of AI, prepare for any potential socioeconomic changes and establish an appropriate ethical and legal framework for the technology. This comes on the heels of an April 10, 2018 agreement between 24 EU member states and Norway to ensure Europe’s competitiveness in the AI landscape.
As one driver for the urgency, the Commission states that it believes Europe, to this point, has fallen behind its global competitors with respect to AI. The Commission is now hoping that with coordinated efforts they will be able to quickly gain ground and join the U.S. and China at the forefront of this movement.
Emphasizing the importance of investment to help close the gap, the Commission set a goal for the EU as a whole to increase its spending on AI to at least 20 billion euro by the end of 2020, then aim for more than 20 billion euro per year over the following decade. As part of this, EU agencies will fund AI technologies both in basic and industrial research, support infrastructure for breakthrough technological innovation, facilitate AI access to small and medium-sized enterprises and encourage private sector investments.
The Commission also plans to address socioeconomic changes that could stem from AI developments. This involves taking measures to further develop Europe’s human capital to work alongside AI technology, focus efforts to help workers whose jobs may be replaced by AI and train more AI specialists by integrating the technology across the bloc’s education curricula.
Finally, the Commission is clearly mindful of the balance to be struck with consumer protection. According to the Commission, consumers should have a right to control the data generated by this technology, know whether they are communicating with a human or AI and receive clear information on the use and properties of AI-enabled products. As part of its legal and regulatory focus on AI, the Commission intends to:
- Publish draft guidelines on AI ethics by the end of 2018 that will focus on the future of work, fairness, safety, security, social inclusion and algorithmic transparency;
- Determine whether the EU’s current safety and liability frameworks are suited for AI technology and release a report on its findings by mid-2019;
- Ensure legal clarity for consumers in the case of defective products by issuing guidance on Europe’s Product Liability Directive as it relates to AI and other new technologies by mid-2019;
- Launch a pilot project to shape the design of policy responses to challenges brought by AI, such as biases and discrimination; and
- Support national and EU-level industry groups and data protection supervising authorities in their understanding of AI-powered applications.