European Union President Ursula von der Leyen has unveiled a new initiative designed to propel the growth of artificial intelligence (AI) startups in the region. The initiative will provide these startups with faster access to some of the world's most formidable supercomputers, right here in Europe.
Heeding the Call of the Global AI Community
Von der Leyen's announcement came as part of her 2023 EU State of the Union address, delivered on Sept. 13. During her speech, she referenced an open letter from global AI experts, which drew attention to the urgent need for enhanced regulatory scrutiny to prevent potential existential threats posed by AI.
In her words: “AI is a general technology that is accessible, powerful and adaptable for a vast range of uses — both civilian and military. And it is moving faster than even its developers anticipated. So we have a narrowing window of opportunity to guide this technology responsibly”.
We have to ensure AI develops in a human-centric, transparent and responsible way.
I believe 🇪🇺, together with partners, should lead the way on a new global framework for AI, built on three pillars:
guardrails, governance and guiding innovation.#SOTEU pic.twitter.com/Nz6tSpoZ9P — Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) September 13, 2023
EU's Vision for Global AI Governance
Central to the EU's approach to AI safety and regulation is the "AI Act." Von der Leyen didn't hesitate to tout it as a potential "blueprint for the whole world." In terms of governance, she encouraged the creation of an international AI council, akin to the International Panel on Climate Change.
The aim? To establish a cohesive and effective global strategy for managing the development and deployment of AI technologies. Reiterating Europe's accomplishments in the field, President von der Leyen said, “Europe has now become a leader in supercomputing – with 3 of the 5 most powerful supercomputers in the world.
We need to capitalise on this”. This move to expedite access for AI startups to Europe's supercomputing infrastructure is an evident step in that direction. It not only promises to bolster European AI research and innovation but also cements the continent's commitment to fostering a responsible and ethical AI ecosystem.
The president also acknowledged the commendable strides made by U.S. technology firms that have voluntarily embraced AI standards and ethics. Similarly, she praised EU companies that have been pioneers in ethical AI practices.
Von der Leyen’s closing message was clear: a unified global effort is essential, and the time to "bring all of this work together towards minimum global standards for safe and ethical use of AI" is now.
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