Harnessing possible benefits of AI will create “massive challenges”, conference hears

Written by Martin Banks on 13 February 2020 in News
News

Spanish MEP Susana Solís Pérez told the DIGITALEUROPE conference that AI was already widely used, creating huge challenges for regulators.

 

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Speaking in a session on how to build trust in such technologies, Solís Pérez said, “We talk a lot about AI and I think we will need an EU action plan on this as there are so many critical questions and massive challenges to deal with, such as completing the digital single market and protecting citizen’s rights.”

On concerns about EU regulation of the sector, she said, “We do not want to regulate just for the sake of it, nor only in critical sectors like defence, otherwise that would kill innovation and business start-ups.”

Speaking in the same session, Christian d’Cunha, the European Data Protection Supervisor, noted that the EU’s “long-awaited” White Paper on AI and on its future data strategy was due out later this month.


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He accepted that there were “some concerns” about AI, adding, “We are not Luddites and we believe in data technologies but it is necessary to separate hype from reality.”

“We have seen a drift towards digital technologies and people always want to find an app to solve their problems. That is why we need a guardrail to ensure that ‘bad’ things do not happen.”

He added, “Ten years ago we had the banking crisis due to certain complexities and, in a way, we now see the same thing with a digital eco-system and autonomous systems.”

“We have to face facts that public trust in many digital services is low and it is hard for people to get straight answers on what is going on. The sheer amount of data out there is one problem.”

“There are so many critical questions and massive challenges to deal with, such as completing the digital single market and protecting citizens’ rights” Susana Solís Pérez MEP

“For example, it is estimated that there will 75 billion people connected to such high-tech devices by 2025. But, apart from anything, we have to remember that this will increase our carbon footprint.”

Another speaker, Laura Heinemann, attache for digital and communication services at the German Permanent Representation in Brussels, noted that her country will soon hold the EU presidency, saying, “Digital services will be one of our priorities.”

She said, “We will try to focus on AI but we have many related questions to deal with. AI has lots of opportunities but it will also has an impact on social values so we have to find a balance between making AI competitive and at the same time finding an ethnical framework.”

She added, ”We have got to help everyone benefit more from AI.”

The one-day event on 6 February heard that many AI systems today are so complex that their workings were “incomprehensible” to many people.

“We have seen a drift towards digital technologies and people always want to find an app to solve their problems. That is why we need a guardrail to ensure that ‘bad’ things do not happen” Christian d’Cunha, European Data Protection Supervisor

In Strasbourg on Wednesday, Parliament adopted a resolution that calls for a “strong set of rights” to protect consumers in the context of Artificial Intelligence and automated decision-making.

The resolution addresses several challenges arising from the rapid development of Artificial Intelligence and automated decision-making (ADM) technologies, with a special focus on consumer protection.

It reads, “Humans must always be ultimately responsible for, and able to overrule, decisions that are taken in the context of professional services such as the medical, legal and accounting professions, and for the banking sector.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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