Shaping Europe’s digital future and ensuring the anthropocentric development of digital technologies: these are the objectives that the EU Commission intends to pursue through the publication of the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence and the European Data Strategy.

At the basis of the ideas and actions designed to implement a digital transformation that is at the service of all and reflects the best of Europe, the Commission has set out five key concepts: openness, equity, pluralism, democracy and security.

The EU’s digital strategy aims to put people first and at the same time open up new opportunities for businesses, encouraging the development of reliable technologies and a dynamic and sustainable economy. In the Commission’s intentions, the European strategy for data and policy options to ensure the anthropocentric development of artificial intelligence, which has just been released, are only the first steps towards achieving these objectives.

Europe has the ambition to be a world leader in trusted artificial intelligence, which can be used and applied safely.

In fact, in the White Paper the Commission proposes a framework for reliable artificial intelligence based on excellence and trust.

In partnership with the public and private sectors, the aim is to mobilise resources throughout the value chain and create the right incentives to accelerate the spread of artificial intelligence, including to small and medium-sized enterprises, and through cooperation with Member States and the scientific community, to:

Artificial intelligence systems, the Commission points out, can be complex and pose significant risks in certain contexts, so it is essential to strengthen confidence. The Commission considers that this requires clear rules to regulate high-risk artificial intelligence systems without imposing excessive burdens on the least-risky ones.

For high-risk cases such as health, police or transport, artificial intelligence systems should be transparent, traceable and ensure that human surveillance is carried out. Authorities should be able to verify the data used by algorithms and certify them, as is the case with cosmetics, cars or toys. Undistorted data is needed to train high-risk systems to function properly, as well as to ensure respect for fundamental rights, in particular non-discrimination.

Today, the Commission again stresses, the use of facial recognition for remote biometric identification is generally prohibited and can only be used in exceptional, duly justified and proportionate cases, as well as subject to safeguard measures and based on EU or national legislation. The Commission, however, states that it wants to launch a wide-ranging debate on the circumstances which might justify such exceptions.

For artificial intelligence applications with a lower risk, the Commission assumes a voluntary labelling system, provided that the highest standards are applied.

As regards the data economy, the amount of data generated by economic operators and public bodies is constantly increasing, but the potential of such data remains largely unused, the Commission points out.

Europe has everything it needs to become a leader in this new data economy: a solid industrial base, whose fabric SMEs are vital elements, technologies, skills and, now, a clear vision.

The objective of the European Data Strategy, the Commission explains, is to ensure that the EU takes on the role of model and guidance for companies made more autonomous through data.

The strategy aims primarily to create a true European data area, a single market for data, in order to unlock unused data to allow its free movement within the European Union and in all areas, for the benefit of businesses, researchers and public opinion.

The Commission believes that citizens, businesses and organisations should be able to make better decisions on the basis of information collected from non-personal data. Such data should be accessible to all public or private entities, start-ups or mega enterprises.

To achieve this, the Commission will propose, firstly, to establish the correct regulatory framework for data governance, access to data and re-use of data between businesses, between businesses and public administrations and within administrations.

Secondly, the Commission intends to support the development of technology systems and the next generation of infrastructure, which will enable the EU and all operators to make use of the opportunities offered by the data economy: it will participate in investment in high-impact European projects for European data spaces and

Finally, specific sectoral actions will be implemented to build European data spaces, for example in industrial production, Green Deal, mobility or health.

As regards the next steps in the EU’s digital transformation plan, the Commission will present a Digital Services Act and an Action Plan for European Democracy during the year, propose a revision of the eIDAS Regulation and strengthen security through a Joint Unit for the,

The public consultation on the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence will remain open until 19 May 2020. The Commission is also gathering feedback on its data strategy.

In the light of the contributions received, the Commission will take further action to support the development of reliable artificial intelligence and a data-based economy.

The Commission website provides a forum for consultation of both the European Data Strategy and the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence.

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