01 July 2020

Key elements of the EU White Paper on Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is developing fast, and gaining more and more importance in our daily lives. It is already changing our lifestyle in some ways, and will do so even more in the future. Even though AI in general is only at its inception phase, it already has an increasing impact in some fields like medicine, production, farming, or security.  AI technologies can be of great help with dealing with a number of international issues like climate change or health. 

Especially within the healthcare sector, AI systems are gaining more and more relevance – for example, by improving the precision of diagnoses, or the prevention of diseases. This becomes even more important in the light of the current Coronavirus pandemic, where the development and application of machine learning systems might be a critical element within the fight against Covid-19.  For this reason, the EU has reaffirmed its commitment to ensure that AI will remain a priority. 

Even before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus and the challenges that came along with it, the use of AI technology has been a widely discussed topic, also in terms of legal implications. The European Union (EU) addresses the legal perspective in their White Paper on Artificial Intelligence published on the 19th of February 2020, which they refer to as “A European approach to excellence and trust”. 

However, the international discussion of AI related issues in the European Union reaches further back, as the European Commission (EC) has already presented a European strategy for AI in 2018. In the aftermath, several other EU institutions have added further guidelines on how to deal with AI technology, until the EC finally published their White paper on AI this year. Within the outline, policy options are presented in order to facilitate a secure and trustworthy development of Artificial Intelligence technology in Europe.  

The key topics covered by the White Paper of the EU on AI are the following: 

- The need for a strong foundation of AI in the values and fundamental rights of the EU, such as human dignity and privacy protection. 

- The significant role AI technology can have in achieving the EU´s Sustainable Development Goals, supporting democratic processes, social rights and enabling the goals of the EU Green Deal. 

- The two areas that are crucial to foster AI systems and generate trust: the “ecosystem of excellence” and the “ecosystem of trust”. 

The ecosystem of excellence focuses on the alignment of policy efforts at a European level, proposing a partnership between the private and the public sector in order to mobilise resources (6 key actions are defined for the ecosystem of excellence), whereas the ecosystem of trust defines a framework for the development of AI and sets out the key elements of a future regulatory framework for AI in Europe, by outlining the focus for developers and investors when it comes to boosting AI technology. 

For more information, read the full White Paper of the EU: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/commission-white-paper-artificial-intelligence-feb2020_en.pdf


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