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April 25, 2018updated 26 Apr 2018 8:22am

European Commission: “We Need to Invest €20 billion in AI”

EC announces fresh € billions, major AI push

By April Slattery

The European Commission (EC) has announced a major push on Artificial Intelligence (AI) coordinated across member states, including ramped up spending, business partnerships and training schemes.

“We need to invest at least €20 billion in Artificial Intelligence by the end of 2020” Andrus Ansip the European Commission’s (EC) Vice President for the Digital Single Market said on Wednesday, announcing a further €1.5 billion for AI R&D.

The statement came as the EC announced plans for a three-pronged approach to AI, spanning increased public and private investment; preparation for socio-economic changes, and development of an “appropriate” ethical and legal framework.

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“AI is transforming our world. It presents new challenges that Europe should meet. 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,” he added.

Warning of a brain drain, the Commission said it will support business-education partnerships to attract and keep more AI talent in Europe, set up dedicated training schemes with financial support from the European Social Fund, and support digital skills, competencies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), entrepreneurship and creativity.

“Many jobs will be created, but others will disappear and most will be transformed. This is why the Commission is encouraging Member States to modernise their education and training systems and support labour market transitions,” it said.

Thee aim is to “maximise the impact of investments at the EU and national levels” and clearly articulate a way member states can use AI together to maintain the EU’s global competitiveness, the EC said.

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The initial investment from the EC is expected to prompt a further €2.5 billion of funding from existing public-private partnerships across areas such as big data and robotics. Plans for continent-wide AI roadmap also look to focus on supporting the development of AI across all major sectors from transport to healthcare, as well as connecting and strengthening AI centres across Europe.

“The European Commission is taking the right approach to AI. Their strategy is grounded in ethics and a commitment to responsibility, it avoids a premature push to regulate, and its focus on bringing together industry, government and academic expertise is essential in positioning Europe to help shape the AI future,” Liam Benham, VP of Government and Regulatory Affairs at IBM, said.

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The new roadmap for AI follows a report by the House of Lords, which outlined the UK’s need to commit to AI in the coming years.

“Artificial intelligence represents the biggest technological and economic shift in our lifetime,” Stuart Wilson, AI and Supercomputing Director of NVIDIA, said. “It is of national importance that policy makers to understand the core components, capabilities and limitations surrounding the modern AI boom and it is important to ensure that key stakeholders in government have the knowledge and tools they need to shape policies, regulations, and budgets in our AI future.”

The Commission also outlined its aim to set out ethical guidelines for AI technology.

“The Commission will present ethical guidelines on AI development by the end of 2018, based on the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights,” the EC stated in a release. “As AI is already part of our everyday lives, Europe wants to be at the forefront of these developments.”

From today, and following the Declaration of Co-operation signed by 24 member states, the Commission will begin the process by working with Member States to produce a coordinated AI plan by the end of 2018.

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