EuropeanAI Newsletter
Covering the Artificial Intelligence ecosystem in Europe.

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A French court ruling indicating that under the GDPR data controllers must also verify their partner's consent strings. On that note, WTF is a GDPR consent stringBrainChips signs a strategic partnership with SoftCryptum (FR) and provides its technology to government agencies in France, Switzerland and Belgium. An in-depth review of the European Commission's annual report on the EU-US Privacy Shield, including a consideration for the U.K. under Brexit. And finally, the submission period to provide feedback on the AI High-Level Expert Group's Draft Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI has been extended to the 1st of February. 

Policy, Strategy and Regulation

A new agreement to screen foreign direct investment in the EU
With an adoption date expected in Q1 of 2019, the agreement on an EU framework to screen foreign direct investment, reached by the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council might soon have real impact. Openness to foreign direct investment is part of the EU Treaties, yet, the EU now identifies a clear need to avert instances where foreign investors attempt to acquire assets potentially impacting the EU's security or public order.

Assets in this case (and for the purpose of this newsletter) include: 
"(a) critical infrastructure, whether physical or virtual, including energy, transport, water, health, communications, media, data processing or storage, aerospace, defence, electoral or financial infrastructure, as well as sensitive facilities and investments in land and real estate, crucial for the use of such infrastructure;

(b) critical technologies and dual use items as defined in Article 2.1 of Regulation (EC) No 428/2009, including artificial intelligence, robotics, semiconductors, cybersecurity, quantum, aerospace, defence, energy storage, nucleartechnologies, nanotechnologies and biotechnologies". 

Furthermore, focussing on AI, the European Commission will be able to issue opinions when foreign direct investment threatens "projects or programmes of Union interest", for example Horizon 2020 or Galileo. This includes key technologies of these programmes such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. 

Despite all this, Member States will still have the last word on foreign direct investment in their territory. Although, only 14/28 have review mechanism for foreign direct investment on grounds of security or public order.


Could Europe push its applied AI research? 

Europe is about to get a large-scale applied AI Hub with the initial backing of institutes and organisations in Denmark, France, Germany, Norway and Finland. Each of the backers is already heavily involved in shaping national AI developments on an individual basis and they are now combining forces to strengthen the broader European AI ecosystem. The memorandum outlines an action plan as well as the organisational structure of the 'European Applied AI Hub'. Supported by an operational budget of €200-300k in the first year, the Hub plans to begin by identifying and boosting key market strengths of local ecosystems and facilitating access to funding and resources for European AI companies. 

A first foray into a "European Ethical Charter on the Use of Artificial Intelligence in Judicial Systems and their environment"

The European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice is the Council of Europe's judicial body, tasked with (unsurprisingly) the efficiency of justice in Europe. The Council of Europe, despite its name, is an international organisation with 47 member states and not bound to the European Union. It cannot make binding laws but it can enforce agreements and adopt charters like the recently adopted "European Ethical Charter on the Use of Artificial Intelligence in Judicial Systems and their environment". This charter outlines five principles guiding public and private stakeholders: respect for fundamental rights; non-discrimination; quality and security; transparency, impartiality and fairness; and "under user control". In addition, it provides a considerable in-depth examination of the use of AI in the judicial system, with specific examples from member states, an exploration of shortcomings such as predictive justice and an exploration of open as well as personal data.

See a non-exhaustive sample of their survey below:


€8m boost for the Finnish Centre for Artificial Intelligence - €250m in the next 8 years

The Finnish Centre for Artificial Intelligence (FCAI), which is also a founding member of the European Applied AI Hub introduced above, will receive €8m in funding from the flagship program of the Academy of Finland and join the ranks of a select number of centres of excellence. The FCAI's total budget for the next 8 year period at €250m is considerable. In addition, this new accolade is hoped to establish the FCAI sufficiently to combat brain drain and attract more international experts to Finland, a goal that would align with the Finnish AI strategy. FCAI's research agenda is also expected to tackle ethical and societal aspects of AI and benefit from collaboration with researchers from other fields. As to Europe's future in AI, FCAI's Vice-President states that "Europe’s best prospects lie in the development of understandable and trustworthy artificial intelligence that is able to effectively utilise data". A consideration in line with the Draft Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI

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