EU member states assemble to lay out vision for AI, 5G and blockchain

10 Apr 2018

Interior of the meeting room of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. Image: RossHelen/Shutterstock

Some of Europe’s leading authorities and representatives on the latest technologies are assembling to figure out how to proceed with AI, 5G and blockchain.

The European Commission (EC) is today (10 April) holding its Digital Day, whereby it aims to hash out what it hopes will be its future policy towards the technologies that could define our lives in the years and decades to come, as part of the Digital Single Market.

During last year’s event in Rome, the EC set in place cooperation deals in areas such as high-performance computing, connected mobility and the digitisation of industry. Now, the focus is on artificial intelligence (AI), 5G and blockchain.

More specifically, the EC has said that it wants member states to collaborate more on AI, particularly when it comes to establishing high standards of data protection. When GDPR kicks in next month, it will insist that algorithms seek consent from users before using their data.

This will include a ‘communication in AI’ in the coming weeks, the EC said, but it has not yet specified what this will entail.

While on the topic of data, the EC is keen to progress an e-health declaration that aims to link access to existing and future genomic databases across the EU in a bid to help to advance research in rare diseases, cancer, pharmacogenomics, disease prevention, brain-related diseases and other conditions.

When it comes to blockchain, the EC said that it hopes to expand upon the €300m EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum established in February of this year by laying the groundwork for creating a European blockchain partnership to promote interoperable infrastructures.

Cooperation on a new level

There is also expected to be a big announcement for the Iberian Peninsula as Spain and Portugal will sign a memorandum of understanding to create a large-scale testing corridor for 5G connectivity following discussions first held in September of last year.

Mariya Gabriel, commissioner for the digital economy and society, said: “Digitalisation is transforming our society and we can reap its full benefits only through close and fruitful cooperation.

“Coordinated EU-level commitment and investments are much needed to tackle the challenges ahead. I expect Digital Day 2018 to bring the digital cooperation in Europe to a new level regarding AI as well as e-health, and I encourage all EU member states and stakeholders to contribute to our efforts to keep Europe a global player in the digital age.”

One of those travelling to the event is Ireland’s Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection Pat Breen, TD, with a keen interest to bolster Ireland’s cooperation with EU states on AI.

“Ireland already has a burgeoning AI ecosystem driven by a cohort of technological, multinational and indigenous SMEs, and supported by our third-level sector,” he said. “We are putting further support measures in place to support this industry base.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic