The European Commission, which proposes EU legislation, has released a new whitepaper outlining policy options for the future regulation of AI and the data used to power such technology in its member states.

The Commission said that it supports a regulatory and investment oriented approach which will both promote its uptake and address the risks associated with certain uses of the new technology.

Outlining its focus, the whitepaper proposes the creation of what it calls an ‘ecosystem of excellence’, which will involve working member states to attract over €20bn of total investment in the EU per year in AI over the next decade.

It said it will focus the efforts of its research and innovation community, closing the skills gap, ensuring SMEs have access to the technology, partnering with the private sector, and promoting AI’s adoption in the public sector.

On its international work, The Commission said it is “convinced that international cooperation on AI matters must be based on an approach that promotes the respect of fundamental rights, including human dignity, pluralism, inclusion, non-discrimination and protection of privacy and personal data and it will strive to export its values across the world.

“The EU will continue to cooperate with like-minded countries, but also with global players, on AI, based on an approach based on EU rules and values (e.g. supporting upward regulatory convergence, accessing key resources including data, creating a level playing field). The Commission will closely monitor the policies of third countries that limit data flows and will address undue restrictions in bilateral trade negotiations and through action in the context of the World Trade Organization.”

John Buyers, Head of International AI at Osborne Clarke LLP, said that unlike the EU’s GDPR regulation, which the UK plans to mirror post-Brexit, divergence from the EU’s proposed AI regulation is a possibility.

"For post-Brexit UK, this initiative is highly significant – we know that the government is actively considering regulatory divergence where it would serve UK interests,” he said.

“Which direction are we going to take? The decision could prove to be highly determinative.

“Data and AI are areas where we can't assume the UK will opt for alignment. This White Paper sets a clear threshold for UK regulatory bodies to work with in deciding the right direction for the UK AI industry.

"Getting regulation right around a fast-changing, very powerful emerging technology is not easy and the Commission's horizontal, one-size-fits-all approach is very ambitious.

“A lot of industries will be concerned that the right balance has been struck between enabling a vibrant European market in these new technologies and protecting the rights of EU citizens."

Guidelines for trustworthy AI were drafted by the The Commission ‘High-Level Expert Group’ in April of last year.

The seven guidelines include: Human agency and oversight, technical robustness and safety, privacy and data governance, transparency, diversity, non-discrimination and fairness, societal and environmental wellbeing, and accountability.