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Europe aims to get back into the AI race with US and China

With the transformation of the AI-revolution coming to the forefront, Europe seems to be falling behind its peers – especially the pocket-heavy tech giants of the U.S. and the government-backed clout of China. Using its latest digital strategy, the European Commission finally plans to get back on track. To this end, it aims to combine public and private sector cooperation and create a single digital market across the continent – something it has been striving for years now. The greatest challenge faced by the EC in this regard is promoting a ‘human-centric approach’ to AI, to facilitate “an ecosystem of trust which mitigates the risks that artificial intelligence may pose to […] fundamental values”.

As AI takes the global centre stage in tackling challenges like mobility, healthcare, climate change and sustainable growth, the EC now faces a tricky balancing act. It needs to encourage start-ups and homegrown innovation, at the same time boosting economic activity through investment from large private tech firms in developing AI algorithms. This may prove to be an especially difficult challenge to overcome.

Currently, most of the data pooled from businesses and governments – necessary for AI development – is controlled by a few large firms. In order to boost widespread competitive development, the EC is looking to make data more readily available for nascent industries and young entrepreneurs as a viable foundation for their start-ups. This act of data centralisation, however, is very likely to receive intense citizen backlash – hence the need for transparency and strict monitoring of guideline-adherence from the EC.

By encouraging AI and data research programs, as well as its proposed data-pooling ideas, the European Commission is planning expenditures of almost $21 billion to create a framework of ‘trustworthy artificial intelligence’. They believe this will create an open economy where businesses of all sizes can thrive and compete, and consumers can be assured that their rights and privacy are respected.

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