White Paper on Artificial Intelligence: Public consultation towards a European approach for excellence and trust

White Paper on Artificial Intelligence: Public consultation towards a European approach for excellence and trust
AI, European Commission

From 19 February to 14 June 2020, citizens and stakeholders provided their views on the upcoming policy and regulatory steps on artificial intelligence.

Aiming to promote the uptake of artificial intelligence (AI) while at the same time, addressing the risks associated with its use, the European Commission has proposed a White Paper (.pdf) with policy and regulatory options “towards an ecosystem for excellence and trust”. This document was published on 19 February 2020, along with an online survey (.pdf), focusing on three distinct topics:

  1. Specific actions for the support, development and uptake of AI across the EU economy and public administration;
  2. Options for a future regulatory framework on AI;
  3. Safety and liability aspects on AI (as outlined in the relevant report)

Who replied to the Public consultation?

Over 1250 replies were received via the procedures foreseen in the consultation, including survey submissions and standalone position papers. 
Participants represented all interested stakeholders from the public and private sectors, including governments, local authorities, commercial and non-commercial organisations, experts, academics and citizens.
Contributions arrived from all over the world, including the EU’s 27 Member States and countries such as India, China, Japan, Syria, Iraq, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, the US and the UK.

graph of respondents

Preliminary findings of Public consultation

Without prejudice to the results of the analysis of the public consultation, the following preliminary trends can be observed for the respondents to the individual quantitative questions or the online survey.

Ecosystem of Excellence

To build an ecosystem of excellence that can support the development and uptake of AI across the EU economy, the White Paper proposes a series of actions:

  • Working with Member States
  • Focussing the efforts of the Research and Innovation Community
  • Actions on Skills
  • Focus on SMEs
  • Partnership with the Private Sector
  • Promoting the adoption of AI by the Public Sector

The majority of respondents considered these actions important and very important, with percentages ranging from 69% to 90%.

Ecosystem of Trust

When designing the future regulatory framework for AI, the White Paper suggests to decide on the types of mandatory legal requirements to be imposed on the relevant actors. These requirements may be further specified through standards. In addition to already existing legislation, those requirements would apply to high-risk AI applications only, consisting of the following key features:

  • Training data
  • Data and record keeping
  • Information to be provided
  • Robustness and accuracy
  • Human oversight
  • Specific requirements for particular AI applications

Respondents related such provisions to concerns such as the possibility that the use of AI can breach fundamental rights or lead to discriminatory outcomes. To address such concerns they prioritised options such as the introduction of a new regulations or the modification of existing ones. The majority of opinions were divided on whether new compulsory requirements should be limited to high-risk applications while among a series of series of conformity assessment mechanisms suggested, they supported a ex-post and ex-ante system of  market surveillance.
For AI applications that do not qualify as ‘high-risk’, the White Paper proposes the option of a voluntary labelling scheme, in addition to applicable legislation. The majority of respondents found such scheme useful.

Safety and Liability

The overall objective of the safety and liability legal frameworks is to ensure that all products and services, including those integrating emerging digital technologies, operate safely, reliably and consistently, and that damage that has already occurred is remedied efficiently. The majority of respondents supported a revision of the existing Product Liability directive to cover particular risks engendered by certain AI applications while an important share also suggested that that national liability rules should also be adapted for all AI applications.

Read summary report and detailed contributions

Read the full Summary Report (.pdf) on the open public consultation on the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence.
All replies to the online survey as well as position papers submitted for the consultation are available on the Better Regulation Portal.

Next steps

This online consultation is part of a broader stakeholder consultation process that will contribute to the preparation of various regulatory options. Following an in depth analysis of the consultation results as well as a detailed impact assessment, a regulatory proposal will be presented.
A full synopsis report will provide overall conclusions of the consultation with a qualitative analysis covering the respective online questionnaire replies, as well as the analysis of position papers received from stakeholders and the results of various workshops and public hearings.

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