COMECE, the European Bishops’ delegation to EU institutions in Brussels, has welcomed a new report on “Policy and investment recommendations for trustworthy AI” issued by the EU High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence.

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The Expert Group published the new document June 26.

The experts reaffirmed their position that artificial intelligence technologies can and must be “lawful, ethical and robust – and in line with the core tenets of the European Union: fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law”.

Among its “key takeaways”, the report said “Trustworthy AI can help achieving sustainability, growth and competitiveness, and inclusion – thus contributing to individual and societal well-being”.

But it added that AI must first “empower and protect humans and society” by “securing individual and societal empowerment and protection”.

Individuals “must have the necessary education and skills to use the technology, to ensure that they can truly benefit therefrom as well as being prepared for a transformed working environment where AI systems will become ever more prevalent”, said the report.

The experts also warned that AI requires an “appropriate governance and regulatory framework”. They recommended “a risk-based approach that is focused on proportionate yet effective action to safeguard AI that is lawful, ethical and robust, and fully aligned with fundamental rights”.

The experts also said EU lawmakers should undertake a “comprehensive mapping” of current legislation “so as to assess the extent to which these laws are still fit for purpose in an AI-driven world”.

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In its response to the report, COMECE said the new document “highlights some of the recommendations expressed by COMECE in its previous contribution to the ‘Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI'”.

COMECE was particularly appreciative of what it called “the emphasis on the protection on “humans, sustainable growth, […] education and appropriate governance and regulatory framework” in the new report.

The European Bishops’ delegation also celebrated that the new Expert Group document takes up two of the principal concerns it has raised in past debates.

Follow COMECE statements and activities on Novena

For the record

In April 2017, COMECE warned against moves to give legal personality to AI systems.

“We believe this to be fundamentally inconsistent with the principle of human agency, accountability and responsibility, and to pose a significant moral hazard”, the Expert Group wrote in response in its new report.

COMECE also called earlier this month for a ban on automatised uncrewed arms systems in combat.

The EU experts took up the bishops’ call, recommending that EU institutions “propose to international partners the adoption of a moratorium” on “military robots which, without any human intervention, can select, engage, attack and hit civilian and military targets”.

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