FT Takes Absurd Swipe at EU’s AI Plans

The Financial Times decided to take a swipe at Europe’s activities in the area of AI: 

“The EU is culpably complacent about the challenges of the digital age” by Mr. Münchau. FT 23.2.2020. (Paywall)

He presented a negative view of the work currently being undertaken claiming that the USA and China have the lead and that the Europeans are only interesting in trying to reclaim a lost position through regulation.

His claims are partially correct – China is using AI to control their population with total surveillance, while the FANG companies in the USA are allowed to destroy democracy and dump real privacy concerns for massive profits. 

Europe has put ethics and democracy at a whole new level and that is good. We do not accept what China is doing nor do we find the behaviour of the FANGS to be in line with our notions of ethics and with our democratic values.

The EC is not standing around as Mr. Münchau suggests. They are takling determined action in a strategic manner.

The EC has appointed 52 experts to a High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence (AI HLEG), comprising representatives from academia, civil society, as well as industry.

The group is headed by Mr. Pekka Ala-Pietilä, a Finn who is currently holding board positions  in  Huhtamäki, Sanoma and supervisory position in SAP. During 1992-1998, he was the President of the Nokia’s Mobile Phones division and between 1999-2005 he was President of Nokia.

The AI HLEG has been set up to prepare two deliverables. 

A set of Ethics Guidelines for AI to establish a framework that guides the AI community to develop and use AI responsibly. 

A policy and investment recommendations for the Commission to ensure technology benefits by boosting innovation and to minimise the risks by having the right kind of policy and regulatory elements in place.

Ethics and competitiveness go hand in hand because business cannot be sustainable without trust, and that requires ethics. 

Europe is not a leader in investment in or use of AI compared to US and China. However, there are three areas where AI has an important role to play:

  1. Business to Consumers, 
  2. Business to Business, and 
  3. Public to Citizens. 

The first is heavily dominated by the big Chinese and American companies, but Europe can make an impact in the other two.

Photo: The EU’s Facebook

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