The forum was focused on Artificial Intelligence and Digital Innovation Hubs.
Third Stakeholder Forum on Digitising European Industry took place in Madrid from the 13th to the 15th of November 2019. It brought together more than 600 attendees and 50 panellists who addressed topics like the opportunities that the AI offers to the European market and the investment required for the digitalization of the industry, among others.
The Stakeholder Forum is a public event organised on a yearly basis by the European Commission and one Member State within the context of the Digitising European Industry initiative (DEI).
Europe is home to great innovators and disruptors in their specific technological fields. Investment in trustworthy AI and support of local Digital Innovation Hubs can give Europe a competitive advantage at an international level. Initiatives like Digitising European Industry and the Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence allow Member-States and regions to be closer to that objective.
As frontrunners in AI ethics assessment, one of the talkswe enjoy the most was “Artificial Intelligence for industry: putting ethics into business practice”. The panel was composed of renowned professionals in the AI field, namely:
This session gave stakeholders an opportunity to discuss the EU AI ethics guidelines, and the next steps to ensure that AI is developed in an ethical manner.
According to Lucia Sioli, AI ethics are one of the AI challenges in Europe, together with investment and education. AI ethics because we have to develop trustworthy AI which is respectful with our core values; investment because all Member States have to work together to be able to create strength in this area and education because AI will create new jobs that we will have to cover.
Diving further on the role of AI ethics, each speaker explained their position:
For Richard Benjamins the trickiest part is implementing AI into into business practice. “There is no experience. The design process is important and it should be based on five pillars: the principles themselves, awareness and training, self-assessment list, tools and governance. We should focus on self-awareness”.
Meeri Haataja provided a startup perspective which work with large organisations both in private and public sector: “We have a consensus about what the principles are, but we should think about how to put this into practice, focused on transparency. Transparency provides a window to see if the principles are in place. We need to establishindustrial specific standards and common practices”.
Joanna Goodey explained that, as a member of AIHLEG, she is often asked: what are the challenges of regulating AI? What are the challenges if we don’t regulate AI? She thinks this is not black or white. “We need strong evidence from different sectors, not only industry but also e.g lawyers who work in industry. We need to draw lessons about what they have done so far”.
Aida Ponce showed her concerns about technologies that impact workplaces and workers. “AI is a very transversal technology, it can potentially transform lives, business models, work places, workers and jobs. You may be thinking that we have seen this before with the industrial revolution, and the answer is yes, but what is different is that AI has three characteristics not seen before: a lot of data, many uncertainties that every day are emerging and we don’t understand (complexity of world) and volatilityof technology”.
Moises Barrio asserted that “We need binding legal regulation. Approach to AI has to be done with legal rules. Ethical rules do not have legal guarantees (in case of not compliance there are no penalties, fines, etc.). Self-regulation is not enough in this area. If standards are just optional some actors will not comply with them. When drafting regulation the voices of the companies are relevant but they cannot be regulators”.
It is our opinion that we are still on the very first stage of regulating AI, that is why we first need to learn what we are talking about and how the industry is applying it, and then, after such initial approach, the relevant bodies in Europe will be able to decide if Regulation is necessary or codes of conduct are enough instead.