The EU Commission Strategy on AI

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European Perspective on AI: Conversation with Andrus Ansip on the EU Commission Strategy on AI

On April 27th, EU Commission strategy on AI and its inclusive touch on many aspects of AI was discussed in different workshops in Berlin. Smart Data Forum was invited to the morning event with the European Commission and was also represented in the evening workshop “Artificial Intelligence – European answers, solutions and challenges”, organized by the TU Berlin.

Following the release of the EU Commission strategy on AI, Andrus Ansip, the Vice-President of the European Commission discussed the EU AI strategy with experts in a meeting at the European Commission Representation at the European House. In the event “Artificial Intelligence – Which way is Europe going?”, a wide range of questions on the role of the European Union in the AI development and dissemination, the strengths of European research and innovation, ethical and legal questions, and the ways to maximize the benefits of artificial intelligence to people have been discussed.

Andrus Ansip considers AI not a hype, but a necessity and reality making services much faster and safer. He also explained how AI fits into the European vision for digital single market and that AI-oriented businesses will be impossible without a digital single market. Digital single market is a must in order to scale startups and innovations to a 500 million market and attract venture capital for Europe. The emergence of the GDPR harmonized the rules and regulations around the data and is essential for the digital single market vision. Besides, given the public awareness around the usage of data and with the rise of AI, there needs to be a common and global ethical principles that create a safer environment even for the investors.

In the input session with the experts, two important factors of investment and access to data were discussed as the step stones for the advancement of AI in Europe. The US has the upper hand in terms of the amount of investment in the AI research and application and China has a leverage given the amount of data and their regulatory framework to access and analyze data. Acknowledging that less access to data can create scaling problems for startups and SMEs,  EU Commission recently introduced AI Public Sector Information Directive Proposal to tackle this problem. Europe has its own advantages which makes it unique in the global competition. Strong engineering tradition, vertical industries and respect for data privacy are specific to Europe and can act in favor of Europe to help startups and SMEs.

The meeting concluded with the message that Europe needs public support in its endeavor to the AI world and both public and private sector must be encouraged to use AI-based solutions.

The “Artificial Intelligence – European answers, solutions and challenges” workshop with the EU Commission brought together different stakeholders AI from research, industry, academia and startups together to discuss the challenges Europe is facing in the AI era. Carl-Christian Buhr, Deputy Head of Cabinet at European Commission laid out the strategy for AI for Europe. European commission sees its role on fostering technological and industrial capacity, foreseeing socio-economic changes and also laying the ethical and legal framework for AI. Boosting the investment in AI from currently €4-5 million per year to €20 million in 2020s, support for Digital Opportunity Traineeship and proposing AI ethics guideline are the concrete actions taken to further the objectives.

From Smart Data Forum scientific board members, Prof. Wolfgang Wahlster and Prof. Volker Markl shared their insight on how Europe can expedite the process of implementing AI solutions. The two rounds of discussion covered EU funding scheme and the problem it creates for prominent research centers especially in attracting talents, lack of support for foundation applied research in the IT innovation pipeline in the European level, and difficulties startups face to secure venture capital.