European Commission sets out plan to drive investment in research and innovation in AI

By Leontina Postelnicu
08:25 AM
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Initiatives outlined focus on four areas: investment, talent, data and trust.

The European Commission, EU member states, Norway and Switzerland have developed a plan to boost collaboration and further the development and use of AI in Europe, prioritising areas of public interest, including healthcare and transport.

Initiatives will tackle the "low and fragmented" levels of investment in AI in the EU, compared to the US and China, according to the Commission, and the new plan focuses on four areas: fostering talent, making data more available, ensuring trust and increasing investment. 

"We agreed to work together to pool data – the raw material for AI – in sectors such as healthcare to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment. We will coordinate investments: our aim is to reach at least €20 billion of private and public investments by the end of 2020. This is essential for growth and jobs," said Vice President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip.

The plan provides a “strategic framework for national AI strategies”, according to information released this month.  At this stage, five member states have adopted a national AI strategy, backed by a dedicated budget: the UK, France, Finland, Sweden and Germany.

Through Horizon 2020, working with member states, the Commission will support the development of a common (anonymised) database of health images based on patients voluntarily donating their data, initially targeting the most common forms of cancer to help improve diagnosis by using AI.

Meanwhile, common European "data spaces" will be created to enable seamless data sharing across borders, and advanced degrees in AI will be supported through initiatives such as offering dedicated scholarships.

“These common European data spaces will aggregate data, both for the public sector and for business-to-business needs, across Europe and make it available to train AI on a scale that will enable the development of new products and services.

“The rapid development and adoption of European rules such as interoperability requirements and standards is essential. The EU must also provide support to ensure that these data sets can be seamless accessed, exchanged and reused," the Commission said.

Meanwhile, a group bringing together experts from academia, industry and civil society is working on developing ethics guidelines for the development and use of AI, with an initial version that will be open for consultation expected to be published shortly. The final document will be released in March next year.

Twitter: @1Leontina
Contact the author: lpostelnicu@himss.org