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June 2021

Summit Part 2: AI, Robotics, and Regulations – Where Is Europe Headed?

The topic "AI, robotics, and regulation – where is Europe headed?” was the focus of the second part of the European Robotics Summit on June 29th. With over 30 industry experts in attendance, the event was a great opportunity to engage in discussions currently taking place across the industry in relation to the European Commission's recent proposal on AI regulations.

EUnited Robotics specially thanks the summit speakers, Dr. Juha Heikkilä (Head of Robotics and AI Unit, DG CONNECT) and MEP Axel Voss (Member of Committee on Legal Affairs and Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age), for their comprehensive and thought provoking presentations and for engaging in an open and in-depth exchange. We sincerely look forward to more discussions with Dr. Heikkilä and Mr. Voss in the future!

Artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to play a major role in shaping global competitiveness and productivity, granting early adopters significant societal, economic, and strategic advantages. As the pace of AI innovation and development picks up, thanks to advancements in big data and high-performance computing, the U.S. and China are both in the  driver’s seat. Europe, meanwhile, despite having advantages such as a strong industrial base and leading AI research and talent, is left behind - Europe is nowhere near its potential in AI!

The European Commission is aiming to turn Europe into the global hub for trustworthy AI. The Commision believes that the combination of the first-ever legal framework on AI and a new Coordinated Plan with Member States will guarantee the safety and fundamental rights of people and businesses, while strengthening AI uptake, investment and innovation across the EU.

On the other hand, the robotics industry sees many no-risk and low-risk applications where “trustworthiness” is relatively irrelevant. The concept of “trustworthy AI” is deemed valuable in high-risk areas but where trustworthiness does not add value, we should rather spare the expense and avoid the extra burden on companies. Summit participants clearly voiced their concern about the impact of overregulation and excessive and unnecessary bureaucratic strain on the robotics sector, specially the SMEs. Moreover, it was pointed out not to “mix up” AI, robots, reality and science-fiction. It was also emphasized that the issue of safety is already dealt with in global robot safety standards (ISO). 

When it comes to AI and platforms, the B2C race is largely lost for Europe as the US and China are already in the lead. But due to excellent position of Europe in manufacturing and machine building as well as excellence in research, the B2B race is still open. However, the window of opportunity for consolidating a progressive European approach to AI on the international stage is closing fast. 

EUnited Robotics is in the process of preparing a Position Paper on AI, Robotics, and Regulations.

We will keep you posted! 

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