First workshop of the High-Level Expert Group on AI

By Lucilla Sioli, Director for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Industry at DG Connect, European Commission

It has been almost three months since the first meeting of the High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence. At that meeting, on 27 June, Pekka Ala-Pietilä was appointed Chair, and two working groups were created, one for the draft AI ethics guidelines and the other for the policy and investment strategy. The discussions were very lively and covered many aspects. The session on ethics aspects revealed a common desire for simple, accessible and practical ethics guidelines that at the same time should reflect the uniqueness of a European approach to AI, based on European values but operating within a global context. The other session, on policy and investment aspects, emphasised the need for a specifically European approach, addressing very important issues such as the need to increase and retain AI talent in Europe and to build on European strengths.

The contributions received from members of the European AI Alliance for that first meeting were very valuable, and I would like to thank everyone again for your involvement. A few weeks ago, the European AI Alliance was asked again to submit input. This input contributed to the workshop of the High-Level Expert Group that took place yesterday (20 September). We have again received very interesting and useful contributions. The request was broken down into five topics (trusted AI, transparency and accountability, industry and ecosystem uptake of AI, AI infrastructure and enablers, and use-cases for the AI ethics guidelines), and there were 40 replies in total.

I agree with many of the ideas received and share the concerns in your submissions. For example, a lot of work is still required in order to develop and implement notions such as trusted AI or transparency and accountability in an AI context, very much yesterday’s focus, and we need a common strategic plan in Europe with a focus on education, research, entrepreneurship, and investment. Other specific ideas, such as the suggestion to have a European AI certification chain, are also worth exploring. We have collected all your contributions into a single file and presented them to the High-Level Expert Group in preparation for the workshop.

As you have seen in the agenda for the workshop, the five topics mentioned above had their own dedicated breakout sessions. The introductory and concluding sessions were video-recorded, and we will make those recordings available to you as well. The breakout sessions took place in parallel in different rooms, and we were not be able to record them for logistical reasons, but the concluding session contained a recap of the discussions during the breakout sessions and will provide a very good overall summary. We will also prepare a written record of the discussions, as for the first meeting of the High-Level Expert Group, and will post it in the Documents section. Yesterday we also created a short video clip in which members of the High-Level Expert Group talk about what AI means to them. More videos will follow soon.

​It was a very productive first workshop. I am sure you are looking forward to learning more about the outcomes of the workshop. We will share the video recordings and other documents soon. Please continue to be active participants in the discussions taking place via the European AI Alliance, and thank you again for sharing your ideas and submitting your suggestions.