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AI: 'We need to act fast to realise the EU's potential'

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The EU could set global standards on Artificial Intelligence (AI), but to reap its benefits the rules must come fast and be flexible, said Axel Voss (pictured), the MEP responsible for a report on AI, Society.

"We have to be aware that AI is of extremely strategic relevance," said Axel Voss (EPP, Germany) in this Facebook live interview. The MEP is guiding the report from the special committee on artificial intelligence in a digital age through the European Parliament.

Acknowledging the technology's importance, the Parliament set up the committee to focus on AI, learn how it might influence the EU economy, find out   about different countries' approaches and come up with suggestions for future legislation.

The draft report, presented to the committee on 9 November 2021, says the EU should focus on AI's enormous potential. Report author Voss said this  technology could play a key role in areas such as climate change, the health sector and EU competitiveness.

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Learn more about what AI is and how it is used.

Can the EU become a bigger AI player?

The EU is falling behind in the global tech race and if it wants to remain an economic and global power, the report says, it should become a global power in AI. If the EU does not act swiftly and courageously, it will end up becoming a "digital colony" of China, the US and other states and risk losing its political stability, social security and individual liberties, the report says. In addition, emerging technologies could lead to a global power shift away from the Western world.

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The EU's failure to commercialise technological innovations means "our best ideas, talent and companies" are going elsewhere, according to the report. Voss warned that the window of opportunity is closing, saying the EU needs to “concentrate, prioritise, invest”.

Europe should concentrate more on business models that would enable the transformation of research into products, ensure a competitive environment for companies and prevent a brain drain. Only 8 of top 200 digital companies are based in the EU.

The importance of data

Data is crucial for the development of AI. "If we think that we can compete in the world without providing data, then we are out," Voss said. "We should be focusing more on how we can provide data, including personal data."

"Too many people think that we can't open GDPR right now," which means a lack of data for EU industry, he said. GDPR sets a global standard, Voss said, "but not with the mind-set that if we have reached a golden standard we can’t change it any longer: you only stay in the first place if you are always improving."

"The big collectors of data are in China or the US. If we do want to do something about this, we have to do something very fast because speed is a question of competition in this area."

Democracy and human rights concerns

The EU is "used to setting standards and combining them with fundamental rights, with core European values. This is what we can deliver and I would also say this is something the world also needs," he said.

Voss believes the EU can mitigate the risks AI can pose to human rights and democracy when misused, as in some authoritarian states, "if we do this pragmatically”.

He warns against an ideological approach. “If we concentrate on combining this technology with our core European values and don’t overburden our industry and our companies, we have a good chance of succeeding."

Learn more about what the Parliament wants regarding AI rules.

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Commission collects views on making liability rules fit for the digital age, Artificial Intelligence and circular economy

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The Commission has launched a public consultation on the rules on compensation for damage caused by defective products. A specific focus will be on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in products and services. The Commission invites interested parties to express their views on the revision of the Product Liability Directive and on whether other national liability rules still provide legal certainty and consumer protection in an age of smart and AI-based products and services. This is especially important since the safety of these products and services does not depend only on their design and production, but also on software updates, data flows and algorithms. The public consultation covers questions such as which economic operator should be liable for harm. Another important aspect is the upgrade and refurbishment of products and components, something that is becoming more and more important in our transition to a circular economy.

The current liability rules are based on two pillars: the Product Liability Directive and non-harmonised national liability rules. The Product Liability Directive protects consumers who suffer injury or property damage from defective products and covers products ranging from garden chairs to medicines, cars and AI-driven products. The non-harmonised national liability rules include various differing liability rules, which cover different types of damage and claims against any liable person.  The consultation is open for 12 weeks and will run until 10 January. For more information on liability rules, see here, here and here.

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Distinguished leaders from Boston and Balkan regions to collaborate for Global Law on AI and Digital Rights

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Two distinguished organizations from the Northeast United States and the Balkans, Boston Global Forum (BGF) and Nizami Ganjavi International Center (NGIC) have announced a collaboration to promote pioneering initiatives related to a Global Alliance for Digital Governance. The initiative, which was the subject of a recent Policy Lab online forum, also involves the United Nations Centennial Initiative, AI World Society (AIWS) and the Club de Madrid.

The joint announcement states that BGF will support NGIC’s Global Enlightenment Education Program in Baku, as well as a number of other initiatives.

BGF and NGIC will exchange resources to develop initiatives to solve complex and controversial issues in the world today and shape the future for “Remaking the World – Toward an Age of Global Enlightenment.”

Under the agreement, the BGF and NGIC will join in promoting the Global Alliance for Digital Governance (GADG), and NGIC will connect governments of Balkan and Middle East nations to support the Alliance. The two organizations will recommend speakers, promote conferences and forums, and publicize joint events.

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Nguyen Anh Tuan, Co-Founder and CEO of the BGF, hailed the agreement and noted its impact on expanding the Alliance: “NGIC will bring a high level of engagement and distinguished leaders of the Balkans, contributing to the creation of a Global Law and Accord on AI and Digital Rights, and discuss the Accord at significant conferences that NGIC often organize in many cities as New York, Beijing, Riga, Athens, Andorra, Cairo, Sarajevo, Sofia, Brussels, Missions in Kiev,

Tel-Aviv, Amman, Istanbul, Bucharest, which are attended by many head of states and government leaders.”

 About the Boston Global Forum

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The Boston Global Forum (BGF) offers a venue for leaders, strategists, thinkers and innovators to contribute to Remaking the World – Toward an Age of Global Enlightenment.

In 2019, the Boston Global Forum, in collaboration with the United Nations Academic Impact, launched the United Nations Centennial Initiative. It began with the release of a major work titled “Remaking the World – Toward an Age of Global Enlightenment”. More than twenty distinguished leaders, thinkers, strategists, and innovators put forth unprecedented approaches to the challenges that lay before the world. These contributors include President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, Governor Michael Dukakis, Father of Internet Vint Cerf, Former US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Harvard University Professors Joseph Nye and Thomas Patterson, MIT Professors Nazli Choucri and Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland, and MEP Eva Kaili.

The BGF introduced core concepts that are shaping groundbreaking international initiatives, most notably, the Social Contract for the AI Age, AI International Law and Accord, the Global Alliance for Digital Governance, the AI World Society (AIWS) Ecosystem, and the AIWS City.

 About the Nizami Ganjavi International Center

Nizami Ganjavi International Center (NGIC) is an international, non-political organization dedicated to the memory of the great Azerbaijani poet, Nizami Ganjavi and to the study and dissemination of his works with a mission to build a dialogue, understanding, mutual respect, tolerance between cultures and peoples for building functional and inclusive societies. Nizami Ganjavi International Center’s main mission is to promote Learning, Tolerance, Dialogue, Understanding and Shared Societies in a world in many ways today facing unprecedented challenges.

Board members of NGIC include the former presidents and prime ministers of the Balkan area and Northern European leaders from Finland, Latvia, Belgium, the United Nations, and distinguished figures from the U.S.

For information about the recent Policy Forum, visit

· Media kit for Policy Lab

· Registration for Policy Lab

· About the Boston Global Forum

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Education: Commission launches expert group to develop ethical guidelines on artificial intelligence and data for educators

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On 8 July, the Commission held the first meeting of the expert group on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data in education and training. The expert group is part of the Digital Education Action Plan (2021-2027), which will further promote understanding of the use of emerging technologies and raise awareness about the opportunities and risks of using AI and data in education and training. The 25 experts, selected via an open call, are to prepare ethical guidelines on AI and data targeting specifically the education and training sector. Acknowledging the potential and risks of AI technologies and data, the group will tackle challenges related to non-discrimination as well as ethical, security, and privacy concerns.

It will also address the pressing need for educators and students to have a basic understanding of AI and data usage to engage positively, critically, and ethically with this technology. Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “Artificial intelligence and learning analytics are game-changing technologies. They are revolutionising the way students learn. At the same time, many educators, parents, and students are understandably worried about who collects, controls, and interprets the data generated about them. This is where our new expert group comes in: their work will be instrumental to prepare practical ethical guidelines for educators, addressing for example biases in decision-making.

"The meeting was an important step towards implementing our Digital Education Action Plan – together we will ensure that AI meets real educational needs and is used safely and ethically by learners and educators across Europe.”

The meeting was the first of four to take place over the next 12 months. The guidelines, to be presented in September 2022, will be accompanied by a training programme for researchers and students on the ethical aspects of AI, and include a target of 45% of female participation in activities. The group will also make sure that the guidelines take into account the Commission's April 2021 proposal for AI legal framework and new Co-ordinated Plan with member states. Information about the launch and the work programme of the expert group is available online, further information on AI and education is available here.

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