Ethical AI pilot to test policy guidelines

ethical ai pilot
© iStock/Nadine_C

The European Commission has announced the launch of a pilot project to implement ethical artificial intelligence (AI) policies and practices across the EU.

The Commission is inviting industry representatives, public authorities and research bodies to participate in the ethical AI pilot, which is based on the conclusions of a High Level Expert Group (HLEG) appointed last year to facilitate the implementation of AI policies in Member States. The pilot falls under the EU’s AI strategy, ratified in April 2018, which aims to increase collective public and private funding for AI projects to €20 billion per year by 2028.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, said: “Today, we are taking an important step towards ethical and secure AI in the EU. We now have a solid foundation based on EU values and following an extensive and constructive engagement from many stakeholders including businesses, academia and civil society. We will now put these requirements to practice and at the same time foster an international discussion on human-centric AI.”

The full ethical AI pilot is set to begin in summer 2019, forming one of the Commission’s three steps to full AI implementation; along with building international cooperation with other nations, such as Canada and Japan, and detailing its “key requirements” for AI rollout. The seven essential requirements as identified by the Commission are:

  • AI systems must support and promote human agency and cannot “decrease, limit or misguide” the autonomy of human users;
  • Algorithms must be sufficiently secure and robust to meet the potential challenges posed by inconsistencies and errors;
  • Citizens must retain full control over their data and AI systems must adhere to the EU’s data protection legislation;
  • Systems must be fully transparent and traceable;
  • AI programmes must ensure accessibility and fairness;
  • AI systems should be implemented with the goal of promoting positive social change, sustainability and environmental responsibility; and
  • Measures must be deployed to ensure AI systems are held accountable for their outcomes.

Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip said: “I welcome the work undertaken by our independent experts. The ethical dimension of AI is not a luxury feature or an add-on. It is only with trust that our society can fully benefit from technologies. Ethical AI is a win-win proposition that can become a competitive advantage for Europe: being a leader of human-centric AI that people can trust.”

In a statement Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl, Director-General of DIGITALEUROPE and co-rapporteur for the assessment list, said: “The result of the HLEG is a breakthrough in the sense that it is the outcome of a very diverse multi-stakeholder group with members from all types of backgrounds. I am a strong believer of this diversity and of a piloting approach to policy making. Further, the group took a decision to reach out, listen and learn so that the next step is to drive an agile policy sandboxing exercise enabling public institutions, private companies, SMEs and citizens to try the Trustworthy AI Assessment list and governance structure in real life.

“This means that the HLEG will receive detailed practical feedback before finalising the document. Only through an agile process and real life sandboxing of the proposal can we learn and avoid unforeseen consequences of policy making. Looking at how to apply AI in particular, there are extensive benefits to be realised in society. We need to get it right in order to drive European innovation and welfare and to avoid the risks of misuse of AI. We outline the common European values and principles that AI should respect.

“In the guidelines, we’ve worked hard to find consensus and reflect the key European principles and values that AI technology and usage should respect. As co-rapporteur on this section, it’s clear that companies and governments using AI need concrete and pragmatic guidance. Cross-country cooperation will be essential to realise these benefits: the majority of investment in AI is still happening outside Europe, and our societies need to have modern thinking on how to tackle challenges around education, healthcare, environment and the labour market. At DIGITALEUROPE, we will continue the discussion with our member company experts and national trade associations, to build knowledge and turn these trustworthy AI guidelines into a success story.”

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