The European Commission has now proposed a three-prong series of measures intended to bolster A.I. on the continent, including investments of up to €20 billion – around $1.8 billion – by the end of 2020. The overarching goal of the approach is to boost both the presence of A.I. in Europe and the E.U.’s competitiveness in the market for the technology. The three parts of the initiative begin with creating a legislative framework for the ethical use of the technology and gaining an understanding of A.I. in preparation for the “socio-economic changes” that come with the tech. However, the commission also notes a substantial amount of work that’s needed in terms of financial support for A.I. projects and encouraging both private and public sectors to embrace A.I. The proposed funding will be put toward accomplishing those goals.
Although the commission tentatively says that A.I. “may raise new ethical and legal questions,” it’s fairly obvious that’s an understatement. New legislation will almost certainly be required to answer those questions, particularly concerning liability or potential biases in decision-making by the A.I. itself, as the commission puts it. New legislation will almost certainly be required to answer those questions, particularly concerning liability or potential biases in decision-making by the A.I. itself, as the commission puts it. To that end, relevant stakeholders will be brought in under a new European A.I. Alliance and by the middle of 2019, the organization has said it will give guidance on those issues. In terms of socio-economic changes, the E.U. is proposing that the Member States should modernize their education and training systems in preparation for the impact A.I. will undoubtedly have on the workforce. That should, the commission says, build on the European Pillar of Social Rights to ensure that workers are ready for body new jobs created by A.I. and the changes it will cause in current jobs. The E.U.’s next multiannual financial framework for 2021-2027 will also include similar guidance, with a central focus on A.I.-specific expertise in light of the jobs that A.I. will eventually augment or render obsolete.
Last but not least, the European Commission will be increasing its investments under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program to €1.5 billion – around $1.82 billion. That will be in support of its guidelines regarding the need for increased A.I. spending in both public and private sectors, as mentioned above. The hope is that will trigger a further €2.5 billion – $3 billion – in funding from the current public-private partnerships in big data and robotics – as well as spurring more than €500 million in investments over the next two years from supporting industries. In further support of that, the commission is proposing more open and easy data sharing for public utilities, environment, research, and health data. A full plan of action agreed upon by the Member States is expected to be finalized by the end of the year.