European Commission tells public, private sectors to hike investments in AI by €20bn by end-2020

Maria Nikolova

The contribution of the Commission itself, however, is humbler – it will be increased by €1.5 billion for the period 2018-2020 under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.

Ever since the European Parliament approved a resolution on robotics in February 2017, encouraging the European Commission to act with regard to the growing importance of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions in various areas of business and everyday life, hopes have been high that the Commission would take some particular action in response to these calls. Alas, today’s press release coming from the heart of Europe fails to meet any such expectations.

The European Commission made a statement with regard to what it dubs a “European approach” to AI research and development but the announcement is pretty vague in outlining abstract future plans and imposing financial obligations on the EU public and private sectors, instead of saying what the Commission commits to do on its own.

There are some numbers mentioned in today’s announcement: the Commission tells the EU (public and private sectors) to increase investments in AI research and innovation by at least €20 billion between now and the end of 2020. No names of particular entities that are set to provide this pretty lump sum of money are mentioned.

It is apparent that the Commission is not going to provide the whole sum itself. In fact, it is not going to provide the bulk or half of the money. The Commission commits to increase its investment to €1.5 billion for the period 2018-2020 under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.

The rest of the announcement contains more idealistic statements, such as a forecast that as a result of the growing adoption of AI solutions, “many jobs will be created, but others will disappear and most will be transformed”. There was no specification on which business areas are set to be affected by this trend. Instead, the Commission urged Member States to modernize their education.

The call for transparency and ethical guidelines concerning the implementation and use of AI solutions was once again reiterated by the European Commission. And although concepts like “transparency” are loved by politicians and fit well in such documents, any person with basic knowledge of programming and neural networks would know that “transparency” is a concept that is not applicable to the area of AI systems.

The Commission aims to start work with Member States to have a coordinated plan on AI by the end of the year. Hopefully, it will be more clear-cut.

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