The EU is currently preparing its first set of rules to manage the opportunities and threats of AI, focusing on building trust in AI. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a major part of the digital transformation. Indeed, it is hard to imagine life without the use of AI in many goods and services, and it is set to bring more changes to the workplace, business, finance, health, security, farming and other fields. AI will also be crucial for the EU’s green deal and the Covid-19 recovery.
European first set of rules will manage the opportunities and threats of AI, focusing on building trust in AI, including managing its potential impact on individuals, society and the economy. The new rules also aim to provide an environment in which European researchers, developers and businesses can thrive. The European Commission wants to boost private and public investment in AI technologies to €20 billion per year.
Artificial intelligence (AI) – Facts and Figures
EU Parliament’s work on AI legislation
Ahead of a Commission proposal on AI, expected in early 2021, the Parliament has set up a special committee to analyse the impact of artificial intelligence on the EU economy. “Europe needs to develop AI that is trustworthy, eliminates biases and discrimination, and serves the common good, while ensuring business and industry thrive and generate economic prosperity,” said the new committee chair Dragoș Tudorache.
On 20 October 2020, Parliament adopted three reports outlining how the EU can best regulate AI . Parliament aims to boost innovation, ethical standards and trust in technology.
MEPs debate Artificial intelligence (AI)
One of the reports focuses on how to ensure safety, transparency and accountability, prevent bias and discrimination, foster social and environmental responsibility, and ensure respect for fundamental rights. “The citizen is at the centre of this proposal,” said author of the report Ibán García del Blanco (S&D, Spain).
Axel Voss (EPP, Germany) authored Parliament’s report on a civil liability regime for artificial intelligence. He explains the aim is to protect Europeans while also providing businesses with the legal certainty necessary to encourage innovation. “We’re not pushing for revolution. There should be uniform rules for businesses, and existing law should be taken into account,” he said.
What role can Europe play in Artificial Intelligence?
Regarding intellectual property rights, Parliament stressed the importance of an effective system for further AI development. This includes the issue of patents and new creative processes. Among the issues to be resolved is the intellectual property ownership of something entirely developed by AI, said report author Stéphane Séjourné (Renew, France).
On 20 January 2021, Parliament proposed guidelines for military and non-military use of AI, especially in areas such as military, justice and health. “AI must never replace or relieve humans of their responsibility,” said Gilles Lebreton (ID, France), the MEP in charge of the proposals. MEPs stressed the necessity of human oversight of AI systems used in defence and reiterated Parliament’s call to ban AI-enabled autonomous lethal weapons.
Parliament is working on a number of other issues related to AI, including:
- AI in education, culture and the audio-visual sector (culture and education committee)
- the use of AI in criminal law (civil liberties committee).
The European Commission AI approach
The European Commission’s approach on Artificial Intelligence is one of excellence and trust. It deals with technological, ethical, legal and socio-economic aspects to boost EU’s research and industrial capacity and to put AI and robots at the service of European citizens and the economy.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has become an area of strategic importance and a key driver of economic development. It can bring solutions to many societal challenges from treating diseases to minimising the environmental impact of farming. However, socio-economic, legal and ethical impacts have to be carefully addressed.
It is essential to join forces in the European Union to stay at the forefront of this technology. If developed and used within an ecosystem of excellence and trust, European AI can be globally competitive while at the same time ensuring the respect of European values.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager eudebates criteria to define market influence of AI and big Data.
In its Strategy on Artificial Intelligence, the European Commission puts forward three strands that aim to:
- place Europe ahead of technological developments and encourage the uptake of AI by the public and private sectors
- prepare for socio-economic changes brought about by AI;
- ensure an appropriate ethical and legal framework.
Artificial intelligence (AI) Strategy
The three strands of the AI Strategy go hand in hand with a vision for a European ecosystem of excellence and trust. This vision was presented in a White Paper that proposes:
- measures that will streamline research, foster collaboration between Member States and increase investment into AI development and deployment;
- policy options for a future EU regulatory framewor. They would determine the types of legal requirements that would apply to relevant actors, with a particular focus on high-risk applications.
These options are complemented by a Report on the safety and liability aspects of AI and the European Data Strategy.
As part of its AI Strategy, the Commission has joined forces with all Member States. Also Norway and Switzerland have joined to foster the development and use of AI in Europe. Moreover, the Commission aims to coordinate European and national efforts on AI. The Coordinated Plan on AI was published in 2018. The first review of the Plan will take place in the first quarter of 2021.
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