A roundtable seminar on the Commission’s Approach to Artificial Intelligence (AI) took place at the European Commission in Brussel, on September 10th, 2018. The event, hosted by both Paul Nemitz, Principal Adviser in Directorate General Justice and Consumers (DG JUST), and Vincent Depaigne, Coordinator of the Dialogue with Churches, Religions and Philosophical and Non-confessional Organisations (DG JUST), gathered together representatives of Churches and Religions Organisations, legal advisors and experts on AI.
Advances in AI, robotics, and autonomous technologies pose a myriad of ethical and legal questions, making the need of a deeper reflection at the EU level urgent. In this regard, The European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE) was appointed by the Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to provide advises on all aspects of Commission’s policies and legislation where ethical and fundamental rights intersect with the development of science and new technologies. The work of the Group was presented during the seminar by Jim DRATWA, Team Leader European Group on Ethics, DG Research and Innovation (DG RTD). EGE came up with a set of ethical principles and democratic prerequisites in line with the fundamental values of the EU Treaties and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Principles such as human dignity, freedom of the human being, responsibility, justice, equity, security, and safety should be construed as opportunities for innovation and development and not as stumbling blocks. Designed and developed wisely, AI, robotics and autonomous systems can contribute to the betterment of our society.
In his turn, Juha HEIKKILA, Head of Unit, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, DG Communication Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT), emphasized the work of the High Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence. 52 experts were appointed by the Commission to advise on questions related to AI, to propose ethical guidelines covering issues such as fairness, safety, transparency, the future of work, and to analyze the impact on the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, including privacy and personal data protection, dignity, consumer protection and non-discrimination. By the end of this year, a first draft on ethical guidelines will be published, while the final version will be made available in March, 2019. From mid-June this year an on-line platform can be accessed, where people are invited to bring their contribution on matters related to AI.
The meeting ended with Q&A session where Church representatives expressed their concerns on the topic at stake, asking the AI experts for a more transparent dialogue.