On Friday, ITI and Bitkom hosted the virtual event, “The Future Of Artificial Intelligence: Reflections on the European Commission Proposal.”
In case you missed it, you can find a recap of the event below or watch the event here:
ITI, Bitkom Examine the Future Of Artificial Intelligence: Reflections on the European Commission Proposal
On April 23, 2021, ITI and Bitkom brought industry experts and EU policy makers together in an interactive conversation, "The Future Of Artificial Intelligence: Reflections on the European Commission Proposal," which explored the new European AI proposal as well as the opportunities and challenges of AI technology. The event featured distinguished panelists from the EU institutions and the technology sector: Nicola Beer, MEP, Vice-President European Parliament; Ricardo Castanheira, Digital Counselor of the EU Portuguese Council Presidency; Anthony Whelan, Digital Adviser to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen; Susanne Dehmel, Member of the Executive Board at Bitkom; Cornelia Kutterer, Senior Director, European Government Affairs, Rule of Law & Responsible Tech at Microsoft; and our very own Guido Lobrano, Vice President and Director General for Europe at ITI.
The debate started off with acclaims for the proposal’s risk-based approach. Susanne Dehmel warned that actions needed to be taken to avoid legal uncertainty similar to the early years of the GDPR; She praised the Commission’s pragmatic definition of high-risk applications, which she said added clarity to the proposal, but was wary of how their requirements could affect SMEs. Ricardo Castanhiera and Anthony Whelan were also in favor of the risk approach, with Anthony Whelan stating that the majority of AI applications would be subject to existing laws for which the Commission has attempted to give more clarity. Nicola Beer gave compliments to the risk-based approach with the flexibility to update through delegated acts, as did Cornelia Kutterer, who welcomed the mechanisms that she said could evolve with AI systems over time. The general consensus around the panel? Successful regulation = flexible regulation.
“Development of AI systems should take into account questions around explanability, bias, and transparency no matter where they are developed.” Guido Lobrano, ITI
The debate then shifted to the global implications of AI regulation. Anthony Whelan stressed that the AI proposal had a built-in global approach, requiring manufacturers of AI systems in other regions to adhere to AI laws in order to sell their products on the EU market, which could push for other regions to follow Europe’s lead in terms of regulation. In this regard, Cornelia Kutterer noted that work by international organisations was important to achieve international consistency. The topic of transparency was also brought up again, as Nicola Beer stressed the need for clarity around AI systems and data. She also called for a human-based approach to ensure consumer trust, noting that the EU now had a chance to put forward European values in the global approach to AI technology. ITI’s Guido Lobrano noted lingering questions on the breadth of the scope and on a number of concrete requirements, and added that how the European initiative interfaces with other regions’ upcoming initiatives will remain a focus.
“Indirect effects might be that standards export better than rules. The standards developed on AI in Europe might be transferred to other areas of the world.” Anthony Whelan, Commission Spokesperson
The panel proceeded to elaborate on questions asked during the event on the topics of competitiveness, regulatory sandboxes, and the EU AI board.
Ricardo Castanheira stressed that clear AI rules were essential to avoid fragmentation, echoing Nicola Beer’s calls for noting that human oversight is important to ensure high transparency. He also noted that Portugal welcomed the presence of regulatory sandboxes in the proposal. On the topic of cybersecurity, Anthony Whelan reminded the panel that length did not always equal strength, and that the short references to cybersecurity throughout the proposal “said what they needed to say.” When asked about the EU AI board, both Nicola Beer and Ricardo Castanheira noted that the board should be established in a way to ensure a level playing field between Member States.
“This Regulation will be positive for companies trying to support an ethical and human-centric approach.” Cornelia Kutterer, EU Government Affairs and Responsible Tech at Microsoft
To stay up-to-date on ITI work in Europe, including future events, subscribe to our ITI Europe newsletter.