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EU aims to take global lead on Artificial Intelligence with new AI Office

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The European Commission has unveiled an AI Office, aimed at enabling the future development, deployment and use of Artificial Intelligence in a way that fosters societal and economic benefits and innovation, while mitigating risks. The Office will play a key role in the implementation of the AI Act, especially in relation to general-purpose AI models. It will also work to foster research and innovation in trustworthy AI and position the EU as a leader in international discussions.

The AI office is composed of:

  • A Regulation and Compliance Unit to coordinate the regulatory approach to facilitate the uniform application and enforcement of the AI Act across the Union, working closely with Member States. The unit will contribute to investigations of possible infringements and administer sanctions.
  • A unit on AI safety that will focus on the identification of systemic risks of very capable general-purpose models, possible mitigation measures as well as the evaluation and testing of approaches.
  • An excellence in AI and Robotics Unit that will support and fund research and development to foster an ecosystem of excellence, coordinating the GenAI4EU initiative, stimulating the development of models and their integration into innovative applications.
  • An AI for Societal Good Unit to design and implement the international engagement of the AI Office in AI for good, such as weather modelling, cancer diagnoses and digital twins for reconstruction.
  • An AI Innovation and Policy Coordination Unit that will oversee the execution of the EU AI strategy, monitoring trends and investment, stimulating the uptake of AI through a network of European Digital Innovation Hubs and the establishment of AI Factories, and fostering an innovative ecosystem by supporting regulatory sandboxes and real-world testing.

The AI Office will be led by the Head of the AI Office and will work under the guidance of a Lead Scientific Adviser to ensure scientific excellence in evaluation of models and innovative approaches, and an Adviser for international affairs to follow up on our commitment to work closely with international partners on trustworthy AI.

The AI Office will employ more than 140 staff to carry out its tasks. The staff will include technology specialists, administrative assistants, lawyers, policy specialists, and economists.

The office will ensure the coherent implementation of the AI Act, by supporting the governance bodies in Member States. The AI Office will also directly enforce the rules for general-purpose AI models. In cooperation with AI developers, the scientific community and other stakeholders, the AI Office will coordinate the drawing up of state-of-the-art codes of practice, conduct the testing and evaluation of general-purpose AI models, request information and apply sanctions, when necessary.

To ensure well-informed decision-making, the AI Office will collaborate with Member States and the wider expert community through dedicated fora and expert groups. At EU-level the AI Office will work closely with the European Artificial Intelligence Board composed of representatives of Member States. The Scientific Panel of independent experts will ensure a strong link with the scientific community and further expertise will be gathered in an Advisory Forum, representing a balanced selection of stakeholders, including industry, startups and SMEs, academia, think tanks and civil society.

The AI Office will promote an innovative EU ecosystem for trustworthy AI. It will contribute to this by providing advice on best practices and enabling access to AI sandboxes, real-world testing and other European support structures for AI uptake, such as the Testing and Experimentation Facilities in AI, the European Digital Innovation Hubs, and the AI Factories. It will support research and innovation activities in the field of AI and robotics and implements initiatives, such as GenAI4EU, to ensure that AI general-purpose models made in Europe and trained through EU supercomputers are fine-tuned and integrated into novel applications across the economy, stimulating investment.

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Finally, the AI Office will be expected to ensure a strategic, coherent and effective European approach on AI at the international level, becoming a global reference point.

The organisational changes will take effect on 16 June. The first meeting of the AI Board should take place by the end of June. The AI Office is preparing guidelines on the AI system definition and on the prohibitions, which will both be implemented six months after the entry into force of the AI Act, due by the end of July 2024. The Office is also getting ready to coordinate the drawing up of codes of practice for the obligations on general-purpose AI models, due nine months after entry into force.

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