The European Commission said Wednesday it will accelerate the development of artificial intelligence with an investment of 1.5 billion euros ($1.83 billion) by 2020. This is meant to boost Europe’s competitiveness in this field.
According to the Commission, this investment is expected to trigger an additional €2.5 billion of funding from existing public-private partnerships, for example on big data and robotics. It will support the development of AI in key sectors, from transport to health; it will connect and strengthen AI research centers across Europe, and encourage testing and experimentation.
“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. We need to invest at least €20 billion by the end of 2020,” said Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market.
“The Commission is playing its part: today, we are giving a boost to researchers so that they can develop the next generation of AI technologies and applications, and to companies, so that they can embrace and incorporate them.”
Startups Not Left Out
The European Fund for Strategic Investments will be mobilized to provide companies and startups with additional support to invest in AI. With the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the aim is to mobilize more than €500 million in total investments by 2020 across a range of key sectors, according to the Commission.
As data is the raw material for most AI technologies, the Commission is proposing legislation to open up more data for re-use and measures to make data sharing easier. This covers data from public utilities and the environment as well as research and health data.
Ethical and Legal Framework
As with any transformative technology, artificial intelligence may raise new ethical and legal questions, related to liability or potentially biased decision-making. New technologies should not mean new values. According to the Commission, it 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.
Following the Declaration of cooperation signed by 24 Member States and Norway on 10 April 2018, the Commission will start work with Member States to have a coordinated plan on AI by the end of the year.