Pandemic forces EU to rethink new AI strategy

The EU has been forced to rethink its new digital strategy, which includes measures to boost its data independence and significantly alter the way European AI algorithms are trained.

Unveiled in February, the stringent set of rules for the development and use of AI products is designed to ensure the nascent technology is used responsibly.

The new rules introduce stipulations around data quality and also demand AI algorithms developed in the EU are trained using European data, which could prove prohibitive.

The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus has emphasised the critical importance of agility and collaboration across continents, which the EU’s proposed measures (if unchanged) will render extremely difficult, steeping the process in bureaucracy.

AI regulation

The 12-week consultation on the new digital strategy – which will determine its final form – is set to take place at the end of May, but will now likely be postponed.

While the EU has not confirmed it will retreat from its position, murmurs from within the institution suggest proposals could be revised to reflect new priorities surfaced by the coronavirus outbreak.

“Now with coronavirus, if you’re working on something like a vaccine and you want to move quickly, there is a realisation you need to rely on a much broader set of data,” said an individual familiar with ongoing EU deliberations.

“The EU is not backtracking yet on its positive but is thinking more actively about the unintended consequences of what they have proposed in the white paper on AI.”

An EU official confirmed the rapid advance of the coronavirus had given the institution pause for thought, but remained bullish about the proposed measures. “We are still not talking about relying on data from anywhere,” they said. 

The official EU stance is that the consultation and implementation process will adhere to the original timetable.

Via Financial Times

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