Delegation of the European Union 
to the United States

EU-U.S. in the 'Pilot Episode’ of AI

02/06/2021 - 20:42
From the blog

Above, David Edelman speaks with Lucilla Sioli.

Opening the Delegation webinar on the EU’s new Artificial Intelligence (AI) Package on 4 May, co-host David Edelman stated, “We are not in season five of this TV series on AI – we are in the pilot episode.”

More than 200 attendees from both sides of the Atlantic participated in a live discussion on the EU’s new AI Package on Tuesday, hosted by the European Union Delegation to the United States. The discussion featured the European Commission’s Director for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Industry, Lucilla Sioli, and David Edelman, Professor at MIT’s Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) and Center for International Studies (CIS).

The European Commission’s new AI Package, published only a few weeks ago, is the first of its kind – offering a legal framework for AI with binding requirements upon AI developers. This new AI Package is the latest update to the EU’s approach to AI since the Commission published its White Paper on AI in February 2020.

“Introducing rules for AI is a mechanism to make sure that more people and business will trust it and use it even more than they do now,” explained Lucilla Sioli.

At the core of the proposed regulatory framework is a dual effort to minimize risks and increase trust. To do so, the EU’s framework includes guidelines such as transparency obligations, which require that humans be notified when interacting with an AI system is not obvious, and outright prohibits some use cases of AI, such as social scoring or remote biometric identification in public spaces (unless certain conditions are met).

The EU began work on a “trustworthy” approach to artificial intelligence in 2018, and was one of the first institutions to establish a high-level expert group on AI, featuring thought leaders and AI experts from around the world. The AI Package released on 21 April “makes the EU’s AI principles implementable and usable,” according to Ms. Sioli, operationalizing the previously released principles and providing a level playing field for the development and deployment of AI.

The event, hosted by the EU Delegation in Washington, D.C., is one of many events the Delegation provides as part of ongoing efforts to strengthen the transatlantic partnership between the United States and the European Union. As EU Member States pursue an ever-closer integration, tech policy increasingly comes out of Brussels, and has become an essential part of the broader transatlantic policy conversation.

On 21 April, after the Commission’s new AI Package was released, Jake Sullivan, United States National Security Advisor in the Biden Administration, tweeted, “The United States welcomes the EU’s new initiatives on artificial intelligence. We will work with our friends and allies to foster trustworthy AI that reflects our shared values and commitment to protecting the rights and dignity of all our citizens.”

The end goal, as Ms. Sioli stressed, is to increase the level of AI acceptance by societies and economies, “otherwise we will not be able to harness the benefits these technologies can provide.”

On the road to becoming EU regulation, the proposed European Framework now enters a review process involving the European Council and the European Parliament.