The European Commission has issued a communication on increasing public and private investment in artificial intelligence.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is an emerging and transformative technology, and promises to deliver vast socio-economic changes to Europe. An increase in public and private investment in artificial intelligence and the establishment of legal and ethical frameworks supporting its development are both vital to ensuring that Europe can become a world leader in the implementation of AI.
The commission has proposed a three-pronged approach, which includes boosting public and private investment in artificial intelligence, including the investment of €1.5bn before 2020 from the Horizon 2020 framework programme. This is expected to mobilise €2.5bn in additional funding from existing public-private partnerships.
Other facets of the approach include preparing for socio-economic changes that artificial intelligence will bring, and ensuring the establishment of an appropriate ethical and legal framework, to anticipate concerns related to liability or decision making.
European Commission Vice President for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip, said that the development of artificial intelligence would have the same transformative impact as electricity or the steam engine.
He explained: “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. 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.”
How have stakeholders responded?
DIGITALEUROPE’s director general, Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl, warned that more consistency is needed on policy, and that this should be undertaken as urgently as possible in order to avoid the EU falling behind and losing its world-leading position in artificial intelligence research and development.
Dahl said: “The AI Communication plans to address severe issues such as the lack of investment and digital skills. The current prediction is that 83% of all AI investment will be done outside Europe. If we do not urgently tackle this head-on, we risk diminishing the EU’s role and relevance on the international stage and hampering job growth in Europe.
She added that efforts are needed to assess the potential impact of artificial intelligence on employment in the bloc: “It’s of utmost importance to discuss the implication of AI on the society and jobs, whereby we should first assess if, or where, existing regulation is already in place or requires updating… We unfortunately see several diverging policy proposals, which legislators and stakeholders need to address while there’s still time.”