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Europe eyes boosting data re-use and funds for AI research

The European Union’s executive body, the EC, has taken  a first pass at drawing up a strategy  to respond to the myriad socio-economic challenges around artificial intelligence technology — including setting out steps intended to boost investment, support education and training, and draw up an ethical and legal framework for steering AI developments by the end of the year. It says it’s hoping to be able to announce a “coordinated plan on AI” by the end of 2018, working with the bloc’s 28 Member States to get there. “The main aim is to maximise the impact of investment at the EU and national levels, encourage cooperation across the EU, exchange best practices, and define the way forward together, so as to ensure the EU’s global competitiveness in this sector,” writes the Commission, noting it will also continue to invest in initiatives it views as “key” for AI (specifically name-checking the development of components, systems and chipsets designed to run AI operations; high-performance computers; projects related to quantum technologies; and ongoing work to map the human brain). Commenting on the strategy in a statement, the EC VP for the Digital Single Market Andrus   Ansip said:  “ Without data, we will not make the most of artificial intelligence, high-performance computing and other technological advances. These technologies can help us to improve healthcare and education, transport networks and make energy savings: this is what the smart use of data is all about. “Our proposal will free up more public sector data for re-use, including for commercial purposes, driving down the cost of access to data and helping us to create a common data space in the EU that will stimulate our growth.” Below is a breakdown of what the Commission is proposing in the various areas it’s focusing on. Regional industry bodies’ response statements to the plan include the usual mix of welcoming platitudes combined with calls for “ a cautious approach to regulation” to “allow AI to have the space to grow”, as tech advocacy association, the   CCIA , puts it. While consumer advocacy group, BEUC , criticizes the Commission for postponing what it dubs “hard decisions to later” — calling for it to make a clear commitment to update the bloc’s product safety and liability rules to ensure they are fit for the risks of the AI age. Target of €20BN+ into AI research by end of 2020 On the investment front the Commission says its target is to increase investments in “AI research and innovation” in the bloc by at least €20BN between now and the end of 2020 — across both public and private sectors. To support that it says it will increase its investment to €1.5BN for the period 2018-2020 under the  Horizon 2020  research and innovation program — and is expecting this to trigger an additional €2.5BN of funding from existing public-private partnerships, such as on  big data  and  robotics . “This will support the development of AI in key sectors, from transport to health; it will connect and strengthen AI research centres across Europe, and encourage testing and experimentation,” it writes. The EC also says it will support the development of an “AI-on-demand platform” to “provide access to relevant AI resources in the EU for all users”. And it says it intends to use the  European Fund for Strategic Investments  to provide companies and start-ups with “additional support” to invest in AI — aiming to, as it puts it, “mobilise more than €500M in total investments by 2020 across a range of key sectors”. Push to open up public sector data-sets The Commission is also eyeing a range of ways to open up access to data — as a strategy to stimulate AI developments. On this it’s proposing legislation to open up more data for re-use , including public sector data — proposing a review of the rules that govern this (aka the PSI Directive) — along with a package of other measures geared towards making data sharing easier; including a new set of recommendations for sharing scientific data ; and guidance for the private sector on data sharing collaborations with the private sector ; and for business-to-business data sharing (it says it will come out guidance to help companies on this front, and also says it will call for proposals to set up a support center this year, funded via the Connecting Europe Facility )

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Europe eyes boosting data re-use and funds for AI research

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