Covington Artificial Intelligence Update: European Commission Publishes Communication on Artificial Intelligence for Europe
On April 25, 2018, the European Commission (EC) published its “Artificial Intelligence for Europe” communication (the Communication), in which it sets out a roadmap for its AI initiatives. Having acknowledged the crucial need for a boost of AI in the EU, the EC commits to supporting investment, (re)considering legislation and soft law initiatives, and coordinating Member States’ efforts. This blog post highlights some of the EC’s initiatives.
By 2020, the EC plans to invest €1.5 billion in AI, and aims to attract at least €500 million in private investments. Its primary focus will be on supporting research and innovation across a broad range of sectors, strengthening research excellence centres, and offering an ‘AI toolbox’ to potential users. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), non-tech companies and public administrations will be a focal point. The Communication also sets out key investment objectives beyond 2020, including research into explainable AI, unsupervised machine learning, energy and data efficiency.
Proposed Ethical and Legal Framework
The Communication underlines the EU’s imperative to protect personal data, safety and product liability.
Enhancing Access to Data
In parallel to the Communication, the EC launched a set of initiatives to make more data available:
- an updated Directive on the Re-Use of Public Sector Information;
- Guidance on sharing private sector data;
- an updated Recommendation on Access to and Preservation of Scientific Data; and
- a Communication on the digital transformation of health and care.
Data protection initiatives
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), entering into force in May 2018, is intended to address many of the issues raised by AI. Other proposals under the Digital Single Market strategy will also aim to strengthen trust in the online world (the E-Privacy Regulation and the Cybersecurity Act), or will facilitate the further development of AI (the Regulation on the free flow of non-personal data).
The EC undertakes to draft AI ethics guidelines by the end of 2018. The EC’s initiative is set to have broad scope, covering the future of work, fairness, safety, security, social inclusion and algorithmic transparency. As a result, it will be more detailed than the ethical principles set out recently by the UK House of Lords Special Committee.
Moreover, to ensure safety, the EC evaluated the Product Liability Directive and Machinery Directive in light of AI and emerging technologies. New Guidance on the interpretation of the Product Liability Directive will be issued by mid-2019, providing legal certainty for consumers and producers.
Addressing socio-economic evolutions
Preparing for changes in the labour market, the Communication includes an action plan to help equip people with digital skills. To support the efforts of the Member States, the EC will set up (re-)training schemes, support Digital Opportunity Traineeships, and encourage business-education partnerships to attract AI talent.
By July 2018, a European AI Alliance will be set up to support the development and use of AI. The EC intends to coordinate with the Member States to maximise the impact of AI investments.