EU, A Pragmatic or a Defeatist ?

Vivek Basanagoudar,

The Indian Learning Magzine

Indian Society of Artificial Intelligence And Law

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The Romanian Member of European Parliament, Dragoș Tudorache and more recently known as the chair of the European Parliament’s new committee on AI, stated that Europe must instil toughness yet astuteness in the race for development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Technology to stand a chance against other power blocks.

The comments were made after the newly appointed chair demarcated the investments made towards AI Technology, which was found to be a meagre amount in comparison to the leaders in the same field. However, he instilled a glimpse of hope by iterating that time was of the essence and if implemented wisely, Europe could still catch up in the long run. Additionally, he provided an insight into the upcoming EU long-term budget by highlighting the key take of the member states which was that ambition would not work without money and hence, in light of the COVID crisis, there is an immediate need for a digital push.

On a personal note, he believed quite the contrary as he identified the problem to be a shortage of talent in AI which was exacerbated by the slow efforts made towards the reformation of immigration policies. A solution was envisaged when he viewed the cunning nature of the Canadian government as it paid for billboards in Silicon Valley to lure AI talent with the promise of easier visa conditions.

The issue of visas and migration was brought up yet again as he sought to lure AI talent in the form of migrants to Europe after they were rejected by Trump in the USA. Another issue that complemented the same was the loss of home-grown talent to competitors, namely the USA.

A Stanford University AI Index report was referred to when Europe was deemed to be a non-competitor in the field of AI and the major competitors in private AI investment were USA and China. UK was the only country in Europe which had a meaningful presence in the field of AI but it chose to leave the European Union. Thereinafter, he called for a higher amount of investment and money in the EU’s seven-year budget to boost AI.

A first of its kind, new rules are being made by the EU to curb the usage of AI technology by companies as it certainly poses undeniable risks. Tudorache said that the rules would be much faster than the General Data Protection Regulation while ensuring the simplicity of the former as opposed to the latter. The statement was made as the EU took around nine years to formulate its data privacy rules. He compared the development of new rules to the building of a rocket as the two require a risk-based approach.

The parliament’s committee on AI comprising Dan Nica, Maria da Graça Carvalho and Pilar del Castillo Vera, will study the impact and challenges of rolling out the technology. The previously mentioned members currently sit on ITRE, the committee on industry, research and energy. They are joined by Andrus Ansip, the former European Commission Vice President.

An intuitive approach suggested by Tudorache was the creation of a ‘risk register’ for different AI applications which allowed for critical sectors of AI to be subject to legislation. A definition was provided for risky technology as he stated that anything that had an impact on human life and involved the rights of individuals would be considered as high-risk technology. In light of an idea floated and dropped by the European Commission on the temporary ban of facial recognition, he did not exclude the idea as he claimed that it was a high risk.

While questioned about a human rights campaign group Amnesty International investigating European technology companies selling surveillance to Chinese security agencies, he said that the two models (European and Chinese) are non-compatible and that the rights of human individuals are highly regarded.

While questioned about the application of AI in defence, he stated that the risks are huge and decisions about the same must solely be taken by humans as opposed to machines.

An update was provided about the effect of the GDPR on AI growth as he stated that an evaluation was ongoing and the impact of businesses was being analysed.

He finally challenged the defeatist sentence in the recent EU state of the union speech from Ursula von der Leyen which stated that the AI wave was missed by stating that the fate of the EU was not sealed. Furthermore, he stated that a new level of ambition was required on personal data being produced. He finally stated that the new models were to be made as opposed to hiking up tax on big American tech giants.

 

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