Final analysis of the EU Whitepaper on AI

In its Whitepaper on Artificial Intelligence, Europe took a clear stance on AI; foster uptake of AI technologies, underpinned by what it calls ‘an ecosystem of excellence’, while also ensuring their compliance with to European ethical norms, legal requirements and social values, ‘an ecosystem of trust’. While the Whitepaper on AI of the European Commission does not propose legislation yet, it announces some bold legislative measures, that will likely materialize in the beginning of 2021.

The White Paper is the European Commission’s first concrete attempt at discussing AI policy beyond the high-level statements of previous Communications. In this sense, the Commission takes up a rule setting role (rather than a referee role). In our opinion, this is a good first step. If we were to draw the analogy with a game, independently of who is playing the game, without rules no one wins. Moreover, the potential impact of AI, both positive and negative, is too large to be left outside of democratic oversight. While the ideas of the Commission need further elaboration and depth, the true the leap forward would be not only to focus on “Trustworthy AI made in Europe” as an alternative to AI made by the existing tech giants, but to promote trustworthy AI as a competitive advantage and incentivize and invest in the institutions, research and frameworks that can set this new AI playing field.


Virginia Dignum is professor of Artificial Intelligence at Umeå University, program director of the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program – Humanities and Society (WASP-HS), co-founder of ALLAI, member of the European High Level Expert group on AI and of the World Economic Forum AI Board, and currently working as an expert advisor for UNICEF.

Catelijne Muller is co-founder and president of ALLAI, member of the European High Level Expert group on AI, Rapporteur on AI for the European Economic and Social Committee, and currently working as an expert advisor for the Council of Europe on AI & Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law.

Andreas Theodorou is postdoctoral researcher on Responsible AI at Umeå University, member of the AI4EU consortium, member of the external ethics board of the ROXANNE project, and committee member on the IEEE Standards Association P70xx series of standards on AI.