Commission: Marrying artificial intelligence and ethics

Commission: Marrying artificial intelligence and ethics
The European Commission is setting up a group on artificial intelligence (AI) and ethics

The European Commission is setting up a group on artificial intelligence and ethics to gather expert input and rally a broad alliance of diverse stakeholders.

The group will draw up a proposal for guidelines on artificial intelligence and ethics, building on today’s statement by the European Groupe on Ethics in Science and New Technologies.

From better healthcare to safer transport and more sustainable farming, artificial intelligence (AI) can bring major benefits to our society and economy. However, questions related to the impact of artificial intelligence on the future of work and existing legislation are raised. This calls for an open and inclusive discussion on how to use and develop artificial intelligence both successfully and in a way that is ethically sound.

Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip said: “Step by step, we are setting up the right environment for Europe to make the most of what artificial intelligence can offer. Data, supercomputers and bold investment are essential for developing artificial intelligence, along with a broad public discussion combined with the respect of ethical principles for its take-up. As always with the use of technologies, trust is a must.”

The alliance

Today, the Commission has opened applications to join an expert group in artificial intelligence which will be tasked to:

  • Advise the Commission on how to build a broad and diverse community of stakeholders in a ’European AI Alliance’;
  • Support the implementation of the upcoming European initiative on artificial intelligence (April 2018); and
  • Come forward by the end of the year with draft guidelines for the ethical development and use of artificial intelligence based on the EU’s fundamental rights. In doing so, it will consider issues such as safety, transparency, the future of work, democracy and more broadly the impact on the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Carlos Moedas, commissioner in charge of Research, Science and Innovation, added: “Artificial intelligence has developed rapidly from a digital technology for insiders to a very dynamic key enabling technology with market creating potential. And yet, how do we back these technological changes with a firm ethical position? It bears down to the question of what society we want to live in. Today’s statement lays the groundwork for our reply.”

The commission will work with member states to digitise the industry, with the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions as well as international organisations.

The commission will build further on this progress with a communication on artificial intelligence and ethics to be presented in the coming weeks, in line with the conclusions of the European Council. This initiative will help stimulate investments and accelerate the development and take-up of this technology.

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