The Commission is proposing a three-pronged approach to increase public and private investment in AI, prepare for socio-economic changes, and ensure an appropriate ethical and legal framework. This follows European leaders' call for a European approach on AI. Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip said: "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.
On 25 April 2018, a new Communication was published that sets out the European Commission's (EC's) new strategy to boost Europe's artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities and related industries, while at the same time preparing for socioeconomic changes emanating from these emerging technologies. The Communication also poses questions as to whether – and, if so, where and how – the European legal and ethical framework needs to be adapted due to the advent of AI. The EC refers to AI as "systems that show intelligent behaviour by analysing their environment, and performing various tasks with some degree of autonomy to achieve specific goals."1 European leaders are considering AI as a top priority. On 10 April, 24 member states2 and Norway co-signed a Declaration which commits them to working together on AI.
Why is AI important for Europe? As electricity did in the past, AI is transforming our world. AI is at our fingertips, when we translate texts online or use a mobile app to find the best way to go to our next destination. At home, a smart thermostat can reduce energy bills by up to 25% by analysing the habits of the people who live in the house and adjusting the temperature accordingly. In healthcare, algorithms can help dermatologists make better diagnoses: by detecting, for example, 95% of skin cancers by learning from large sets of medical images.
The race to become the global leader in artificial intelligence (AI) has officially begun. In the past fifteen months, Canada, Japan, Singapore, China, the UAE, Finland, Denmark, France, the UK, the EU Commission, South Korea, and India have all released strategies to promote the use and development of AI. No two strategies are alike, with each focusing on different aspects of AI policy: scientific research, talent development, skills and education, public and private sector adoption, ethics and inclusion, standards and regulations, and data and digital infrastructure. It also highlights relevant policies and initiatives that the countries have announced since the release of their initial strategies. I plan to continuously update this article as new strategies and initiatives are announced. If a country or policy is missing (or if something in the summary is incorrect), please leave a comment and I will update the article as soon as possible.
Last week, the European Commission published an important paper on artificial intelligence and robotics. Its communication on "Artificial Intelligence for Europe", released on 25 April 2018, describes AI technologies as being as transformative as the steam engine or electricity. They will, it is said, help solve some of the world's biggest problems, from chronic disease, to climate change, to cybersecurity threats. The communication sets out three pillars of a proposed integrated approach to AI across Europe: keeping ahead of technological developments and encouraging uptake of AI by the public and private sectors; preparing for the socio-economic changes brought about by AI; and ensuring an appropriate ethical and legal framework. As a starter, the EU has announced additional funding for AI-related projects via its Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, with up to €500 million extra available each year between now and 2020.