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POLICY | 09 March 2021

A European approach to Artificial intelligence

The European Commission’s approach on Artificial Intelligence centres around excellence and trust. It aims to boost the EU's research and industrial capacity.  

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is an area of strategic importance and a key driver of economic development. It can bring solutions to many societal challenges from treating diseases to minimising the environmental impact of farming. However, there are socio-economic, legal and ethical impacts of AI that have to be carefully addressed. 

Member States and the Commission must work together to stay at the forefront of this technology. If developed and used within an ecosystem of excellence and trust, European AI can be globally competitive while also respecting European values. 

Artificial intelligence gives machines the capability to analyse their environment and make decisions with some degree of autonomy to achieve specific goals. 

Machine learning refers to the ability of software and computers to learn from their environments or from very large sets of representative data. This enables systems to adapt their behaviour to changing circumstances or to perform tasks for which they have not been explicitly programmed. 

High-quality data is a key factor in improving performance and building robust models for AI systems. The Commission wants to ensure legal clarity in AI-based applications, especially regarding data. Thus the proposed regulation on data governance will help by boosting data sharing across sectors and Member States, while the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a major step towards building trust.

The European Commission has welcomed other initiatives on building trust in AI, such as: 

Next Steps 

The Commission will propose a horizontal regulatory proposal in 2021. This proposal will aim to safeguard fundamental EU values and rights and user safety by obliging high-risk AI systems to meet mandatory requirements related to their trustworthiness. For example, ensuring there is human oversight, and clear information on the capabilities and limitations of AI.  

The proposal follows on from an in-depth analysis of an open public consultation on the AI White Paper, which presented policy and regulatory options “towards an ecosystem for excellence and trust”. The consultation itself attracted over 1200 contributions from European citizens, Member States, civil society, industry, academics and other stakeholders.  

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Artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, refers to technologies capable of analysing their environment and taking autonomous actions respecting pre-defined values.

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