AI research and innovation: Europe paving its own way Report (2020)
The report 'AI research and innovation: Europe paving its own way' by the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission is an attempt to examine the state-of-play of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Europe, and especially the benefits and opportunities opened up as the technology's uptake and adoption in Europe skyrocketed. Importantly, the report also looks at AI limitations - such as the challenges in building AI applications and algorithms that are ethical and fair.
The document is a good overview not only to policymakers and professionals in related fields touched by digitalisation (education, academia, research and innovation), but also to anyone interested in finding out the reasons why AI is often called a 'gamechanger' in the context of so many different sectors and fields. It presents the history of AI (from the famous Turing test, designed to see whether a machine is capable of possessing intelligent thought, to the numerous researchers who have struggled to define the technology) and looks at the prerequisite elements that need to exist in order to enable AI's full potential.
- Benefitting from AI's potential is contingent on various factors, including having in place the necessary information and communication technology (ICT) skills and digital competences for a larger segment of the workforce, as well as for ordinary citizens throughout the EU Member States.
- When we look at the potential of AI as a whole, the technology is well-placed to lead to innovative products and solutions, boost labour productivity, and increase efficiency in virtually any economic sector.
- AI can be a key player in managing greenhouse emissions - but at the same time, there are risks involved with technology products enabled by AI (such as supercomputers or huge data centres).
- Private investments in the field of AI are on the rise - causing a ripple effect on the labour market and drawing attention to the need for ICT specialists in AI throughout the world.
- While the EU is a leader in AI-related innovation and in terms of scientific excellence in the field, it is lagging behind the United States when it comes to both adoption, research, employment and uptake. The United States is very much still the world's largest AI talent pool.
- The lack of gender diversity in AI research persists, although there has been progress over time - with the most visible increases overall taking place in European countries, namely in the Netherlands, Ireland, Hungary, France and Belgium.
Taking stock of the analysis put forward by the report, two main recommendations emerge: increasing the number of students and ICT professionals with technical expertise and/or theoretical background in AI and the need to enable a work environment that pools the best talent Europe has to offer and attracts qualified experts from abroad. With the increased digitalisation of services and products, increased investment is needed also in trainings that reflect the challenges and potential risks of AI technologies.