Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already part of our daily lives, when we use our smartphones and tablets.
AI applications can help people and business in many ways.
- a smart thermostat can reduce your home energy bills by up to 25% by analysing the habits of people living in the house.
- algorithms can help dermatologists make a better diagnosis, detecting 95% of skin cancers by learning from large sets of medical images.
AI is an opportunity that Europe should grasp firmly – and quickly.
That is why the European Commission presented a strategy for AI in April. On this basis, we have now agreed with EU countries on how to move forward.
Firstly, data. Our future will depend on data.
It is the raw material that makes AI work.
Most AI technologies are data-hungry - so the larger a data set, the more and better that they can learn. Data must be secure and flow freely, not be locked unreasonably in national territory.
Under the Digital Single Market, we have strengthened privacy and cybersecurity rules. We now have laws to guarantee free flow of data and allow more use of public data.
Our AI plan will develop common data spaces in areas such as health, energy or manufacturing, to aggregate data for public sector and for business-to-business.
This should become a major asset for European innovators and businesses working with AI.
Next, investment. We urgently need to invest more in AI, public and private. Today, Europe is lagging behind its global competitors.
We do not want a brain-drain. We want to compete.
Our targets are for at least €20 billion of overall investment in reserach and innovation by the end of 2020 and more than €20 billion per year over the next decade.
The Commission has already set an example:
- we will increase AI investments to €1.5 billion up to 2020;
- we have proposed at least €1 billion per year in the next EU long-term budget;
We have now agreed to launch a new PPP on AI, bringing academia and industry together, and we will provide more resources for AI startups and innovators.
A broad majority of European countries are now preparing their AI strategy or already have one. All will have it in place by mid-2019.
Each strategy should also cover skills training and education, since many workers will need to upskill and retrain.
Lastly: ethics. I know this is a major concern for many people.
The draft paper on ethics guidelines will be published on 18 December. After consultation, our expert group will finalise them in early 2019. If like-minded countries agree, they could contribute to an international approach on AI ethics.
AI is transforming our world. It has the potential to benefit society as a whole. For people in their daily lives, for business.
Europe is doing its best for AI to succeed and work for everyone.