Given the absence of a global governance model on the ethical aspects of artificial intelligence, the European Union, through a common legislative action, would have the potential to become a model and gain a competitive advantage in this field. If so, what would be the added value that could be generated by a common European approach to the development of individual national policies?
This is the question that the study conducted by the European Parliament Research Service (EPRS) entitled “European framework on ethical aspects of artificial intelligence, robotics and related technologies” is trying to answer.
The study provides a quantitative assessment of the possible economic impacts in terms of GDP and employment and a qualitative one based on five criteria. Its key conclusion shows that a common European action would be preferable as a political solution compared to the current status quo. Such a strategy would have the potential to create € 294.9 billion in additional GDP and 4.6 million more jobs by 2030 for the EU.
The study obviously has some limitations mainly due to the absence of an agreed definition of artificial intelligence and the actual scope of European action on ethics, as well as the scarce availability of structured historical data. Therefore, it is only a partial view and will need to be further updated and verified with additional data in the future.
However, it can be considered as food for thought in the wider context of the European and national debate on the potential, development and use of these technologies as well as global competitiveness.
The study could feed the debate on the ethical issues of artificial intelligence. Undoubtedly, a European framework would aim to adapt and integrate the existing system of rules to provide an ex-ante, dynamic and forward-looking guidance so that the study and application of these technologies adhere to the ethical principles and values of a specific society.
Accordingly, this guidance should provide a framework for reaping the full benefits of emerging digital technologies without compromising or threatening our human standards and values or giving rise to risks that are not covered by the current legislation. However, the thinking is driven more by a logic of global competitiveness on digital issues whereby a common EU legislative action could provide its industrial sector with a competitive advantage becoming the “first mover”.
Moreover, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is another starting point for reflection. It is recalled in the European Parliament’s Research Service study, as it constitutes, in accordance with the latest Commission report, a recent example of how the Union, acting as a regional bloc, can successfully build a global strategic advantage.