The High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence (AI HLEG) of the European Commission is pursuing its mission. After publishing its “Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI” on 8 April, it launched a pilot phase on 26 June to evaluate the list of criteria made available to companies. On the same day, it also published its policy and investment recommendations for the European Commission and the Member States. The AI HLEG is advocating for a risk-based AI governance, including a comprehensive mapping of relevant European laws.
In its 50-page document called “Policy and Investment Recommendations for Trustworthy AI”, the AI HLEG focuses on four main areas where it believes that AI can help achieving a beneficial impact, starting with humans and society at large, and continuing then to focus on the private sector, the public sector and Europe’s research and academia. The AI HLEG – which includes engineers, philosophers, lawyers, industrialists and a trade unionist – stresses that artificial intelligence must serve the health and safety of workers, particularly in the case of dangerous tasks. It also proposes to require those AI systems to create a self-identification system so that users are informed that they are not interacting with a human. These recommendations are an addition to the “first deliverable”, as the experts call it: the guidelines on the ethical dimension of artificial intelligence of 8 April. These guidelines establish key principles for a trustworthy AI, provide guidance to designers and provide a “concrete and non-exhaustive” assessment list to achieve this trust.
It is on this third component – the evaluation list – that the piloting exercise that has just been launched will focus on. Andrea Renda, researcher at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) and member of the HLEG, said that this process would be structured around two components: one in the form of an open-ended questionnaire, the other in the form of a detailed analysis, with the experts of the High-Level Expert Group planning to go beyond their limits to analyze, over a day and in different sectors, the relevance of these criteria. During the European AI Alliance meeting, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel declared: “I invite you to participate because, afterwards, we will conduct an analysis to decide which evaluation criteria should remain, be strengthened or modified to reflect reality as much as possible.”
Overall, reactions to the work of the HLEG were rather positive. The digital technology industry DigitalEurope suggested that it did not agree with all the recommendations but welcomed the “inclusive and agile” work process chosen to address these issues. The European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO) considered that these recommendations defined the right level of ambition, particularly welcoming the risk-based approach and mapping exercise recommended by the experts. Thiébaut Weber, who participated in the High-Level Expert Group on behalf of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), said: “This report contains clear recommendations for AI to serve humans, including in the workplace (…). The ball is in the court of the European Commission, the States, but also for employers and trade unions to seize these solutions”.