EU outlines plans to promote more data-sharing to fuel innovation

By opening up public data to companies, European businesses can build AI services

The European Commission (EC) has put forward new measures to boost funding for AI and open up more data for re-use to make data-sharing easier within the digital single market.

Publically available data, like data from public utilities, environmental data as well as research and health data will be made available for reuse under the EC's plans, in a bid to help startups and larger businesses across the EU use the data to develop innovative services.

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Using data in the public domain is essential to developing services based on new technologies, the EC believes, such as artificial intelligence (AI), which China, the US and other countries are investing heavily in - just today the UK announced a 1 billion public-private sector partnership investment in the technology.

The Commission's vice-president for the digital single market, Andrus Ansip, highlighted the need for data to make the most of technological advances.

"The digital single market is rapidly taking shape; but without data, we will not make the most of artificial intelligence, high-performance computing and other technological advances," he said.

"These technologies can help us to improve healthcare and education, transport networks and make energy savings: this is what the smart use of data is all about.

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"Our proposal will free up more public sector data for re-use, including for commercial purposes, driving down the cost of access to data and helping us to create a common data space in the EU that will stimulate our growth."

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The EC aims to present ethical guidelines on AI development by the end of 2018, which will be based on the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights and take into account principles such as data protection and transparency.

The value of the European data economy was 300 billion in 2016, according to the EU, and the EC predicts that figure to rise to 739 billion by 2020 if the right legislative and policy measures are put in place.

In a second proposal, the EC urged the EU to increase investments in AI research and innovation by at least 20 billion between now and the end of 2020.

Picture: Shutterstock 

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