Ursula von der Leyen wanted to propose an artificial intelligence law within a hundred days of taking office on 1st December 2019. Given the complexity of the matter, the President of the European Executive has finally lowered her ambitions, at least in terms of timetable.
Wednesday 19 February is therefore a white paper on artificial intelligence and a data strategy to be presented by the Commission. These two initiatives provide a framework for future legislation, which is expected at the earliest by the end of the year, after a period of consultation with all the stakeholders – businesses, unions, non-governmental organizations ( NGO) …
To better understand what this is all about, we must remember, as Thierry Breton, the Internal Market Commissioner often does, that it is data, worked on by algorithms for months, that allow artificial intelligence. It must also be understood that the next wave of data – the raw material, therefore, of this industrial revolution – will be made of data generated by companies, which are called to double every eighteen months; this is the information that 5G will provide from a connected car, a water treatment plant, or even a smart city.
Europe, which missed the train of personal data on which Facebook and other Google built their empire, “Must be the first continent to take full advantage of this wave”, explains Thierry Breton. In this battle, it leaves with an advance on the United States or China, insofar as it is the first industrial power in the world and therefore has more data to exploit than its competitors. Similarly, in terms of public data, it is richer, given the place of States (health, energy, public transport, etc.) in European societies.
Harmonize and supervise access to data
But to take advantage of this advantage, Europe must respond to several challenges. The first: create a “Single market for this data”, which it didn’t do in terms of personal data, while China or the United States naturally benefited from a much larger market.
For this, Brussels will have to harmonize and supervise access to data. “We will establish clear and strict rules that everyone, if they want to come to Europe, will have to respect”, says Thierry Breton, who also insists on the need to encourage data sharing, when possible of course. For example, in the automotive sector, manufacturers can share information about the wear of certain parts.