EU needs to spend €20bn a year to compete on AI, commission says

European Commission policy paper sets out three-pronged approach

The European Commission policy paper proposes sharply increased investment in artificial intelligence by both the EU and the private sector.

The European Commission policy paper proposes sharply increased investment in artificial intelligence by both the EU and the private sector.

 

The European Union needs to spend at least €20 billion a year from 2020 on artificial intelligence if it is to catch up on the leads established by the United States and China in this vital market, a European Commission paper proposes.

The strategy paper, agreed by the commission on Thursday, sets out a three-pronged approach:sharply increased investment by both the EU and the private sector; a push, using social funding, to modernise education and training and to facilitate labour market transitions; and the elaboration of ethical guidelines for AI production and use to deal with issues ranging from product liability to potentially biased decision-making.

The EU says it will establish a European AI Alliance with stakeholders to consider such issues.

The initiative will be welcomed in Ireland where work on AI is well advanced and researchers may expect access to significant funding.

Warning that the bloc has fallen far behind the US and China, EU vice-president for the single market Andrus Ansip compared EU spending of €400 million in 2016 on AI research and investment with €12 billion in Asia and €15-€23 billion in the US in the same period.

Budget

The commission’s paper comes as work is finalised on the EU’s post-2020 budget, the first draft of which is being published in outline form next week.

Funding is being squeezed by the impending UK departure and a number of new proposed expenditure lines, such as migration and defence.

Additional spending on research, particularly in the digital economy, is also seen as a crucial priority and the commission was yesterday putting down a marker on the issue.

As part of the digital single market package, the commission also proposed new rules to ensure that data held by the state or produced by researchers funded by the state would be available free of charge to businesses for research.

And it will bring forward measures to simplify and harmonise the online setting up or moving of companies across member states.

On Thursday, the commission will unveil proposals to tackle the challenge of fake news, or disinformation, on the internet. It will suggest the drafting by the online industry and interested parties of a new code of conduct for the industry to enable labelling that distinguishes reliable news sources and identifies paid-for content.

If voluntary self-regulation does not work, the commission says it will propose legislative measures.