Artificial intelligence is a big topic in European and national politics, and it is an area in which universities must contribute with their unique qualities.
It is a technology that – like the steam engine or electricity in the past – can be applied to many fields and disciplines, increasing efficiency and the scope of what is technically possible. For this reason, the European Commission has recently launched a new strategy for artificial intelligence in a dedicated Communication that attempts to develop a coordinated approach at EU level to catch up with developments in the US and China to make Europe a frontrunner in this technological revolution. The Communication focuses on three key elements: boosting European competitiveness, preparing for socio-economic changes and developing an appropriate legal and ethical framework.
In a first reaction EUA has underlined how universities can contribute to develop AI for the benefit of society through multidisciplinarity and the close connection between research and education. Research is needed to better understand AI and further develop its applications in various domains. Re- and upskilling of people who might lose their jobs due to automation is important for social stability and training future experts and innovators technically as well as ethically is a pre-requisite to use AI for the benefit of society.
Following from the Communication, the European Commission foresees a number of actions, such as the revision of relevant regulation, further investment in AI research and the development of ethical guidelines for AI. The first step will be to bring together relevant stakeholders in a so-called European AI Alliance which will be involved in the development of ethical standards. EUA will follow the process and engage on behalf of its members where appropriate.