Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to systems that can simulate intelligent human behavior. Those systems can perform tasks with a certain degree of autonomy in order to produce specific results. The EU is still falling behind countries like the U.S. and China in terms of AI development. Therefore, the European Commission started developing a European approach on AI that aims to boost the European Union’s competitiveness and ensure trust based on European values.
The latest step in that process is the adoption of conclusions on the coordinated plan on artificial intelligence which was adopted by the Competitiveness Council on 18 February 2019.
The EU Council conclusions call for a stronger development and the deployment and uptake of Artificial Intelligence applications in all economic sectors, with the aim of making Europe a global leader in Artificial Intelligence. The EU Council believes this should be done by increasing investment in that area, reinforcing excellence in Artificial Intelligence technologies and applications, and strengthening research and innovative collaboration between the industry and academia on Artificial Intelligence.
The Council also invites start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and innovative companies to contribute to and benefit from the development and broadest uptake of Artificial Intelligence in the economy.
Furthermore, it acknowledges that there are shortages of ICT professionals, engineers, artificial intelligence specialists and other associated professionals in the EU Member States. It emphasizes the urgency of incorporating digital skills with a special focus on Artificial Intelligence at all levels of education and increasing the availability of high-quality ICT programmes, with a focus on automation, robotics and Artificial Intelligence as well as software reliability and security, in tertiary education.
The document also highlights the importance of ensuring the full respect of the European citizen’s rights by implementing ethics guidelines for the development and use of Artificial Intelligence within the European Union and at a global level, making ethics in Artificial Intelligence a competitive advantage for European industry.
In its recommendations in view of the European elections 2019, Ecommerce Europe also calls on EU policymakers to speed up the efforts in the development of Artificial Intelligence in Europe. Technologies like Artificial Intelligence structurally revolutionize digital commerce, for instance by making e-merchants more and more competitive and capable of providing even more targeted offers to consumers. If Europe wants to stay relevant in today’s fast-paced digital economy, it must deliver on its objective to boost financial support for companies developing these technologies.