The “SBS Forum on ICT standards for SMEs” is a European platform for discussion and sharing of information about ongoing ICT standardisation activities that are relevant to SMEs. The main target audience of the forum are SMEs from across the EU and EFTA member states, as well as associations representing SME interests.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can act as an enabler for other technologies in various field. Some compare the potential impact of AI to the spread of electricity at the end of the 19th century. Electricity had an enabling effect on existing machineries and processes, which led to further innovation. Some argue that AI can be considered the key general-purpose technology (GPT) of our times (see Brynjolfsson & McAfee, 2017[1]; Trajtenberg, 2018[2]).

The world is still at the beginning of a wide-spread uptake of AI. While Europe has a large number of AI researchers, there is a general perception that innovation seems to happen elsewhere, e.g. in the US or China. At the same time, AI can have a tremendous impact on different industries and is thought to bring great benefits to society if used well. The need to prioritise AI as a strategic technology and capacity has been recognised in the EU’s Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence adopted in December 2018 and is reflected in the EU’s new Digital Strategy, which includes a White Paper on AI and a European Strategy on Data. It has been part of the EU’s strategy to create a competitive edge in AI technology by focusing on “trustworthy” AI. As the European Commission put it: “The European approach for AI aims to promote Europe’s innovation capacity in the area of AI while supporting the development and uptake of ethical and trustworthy AI across the EU.” This implies developing the necessary industrial and technological capacities for AI, but also includes measures that will enable the EU to become a global hub for data.[3]

This year’s SBS ICT Forum would like to tackle the following questions: What do we need to make AI technologies a success for SMEs in Europe? How can SMEs implement trustworthy and ethical AI? What can be the role of standards to support this development?

The event will involve a stock-taking exercise of the availability and ongoing efforts related to AI standards (e.g. ethical AI, security, or data-related standards). What standards are missing, and which areas does the EU need to focus on to support the uptake of AI? Are there available standards for ethical AI, and are they ready to be deployed? Do we need more standardisation activities in the area of access to data? In other words, do we need to use standardisation to make AI technologies a success for SMEs in Europe and if yes, how can we support these standardisation efforts?

EVENT AGENDA

9:00 – 09:15       Signing in of Participants

9:15 – 09:20       Welcome

  • Maitane Olabarria Uzquiano (Small Business Standards)

09:20 – 10:50    Session 1: European AI Policy (Moderated by Sebastiano Toffaletti, DIGITAL SME)

This opening session will discuss the policy objectives defined in the EU’s coordinated plan on AI and the EU’s digital strategy, including the white paper on AI and the access to data strategy. In particular, it will debate principles of ethical AI, and discuss the intersection between regulation, ethics, norms and standards. Further, it will touch upon the economic implications of AI: can ethical AI be a competitive advantage for European companies?

Topics for discussion:

  • What is the EU’s strategy for AI in Europe? What is the role of the coordinated plan on AI and how successful has it been so far?
  • What are the main priorities defined in the EC’s White Paper on AI?
  • What role for ethical AI? How can we define and implement ethical AI? Does this have a competitive advantage for the EU’s economy and businesses?
  • How do ethics and norms relate to standards?

Keynote speech: Ms. Lucilla Sioli, European Commission, Director for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Industry, DG Connect

Roundtable discussion with invited experts:

  • Lucilla Sioli, European Commission, Director for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Industry, DG Connect
  • Gemma Galdon Clavell, Director at Eticas Research and Consulting
  • Ms. Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, Member of the European Parliament
  • Mr. Alexandre Zapolsky, President of Linagora
  • George Sharkov, Member of the European Commission High-Level Expert Group on AI (HLEGAI) & Member of DIGITAL SME Focus Group on AI

10:50 – 11:05    Break

11:05 – 12:40    Session 2, Standardisation in AI (Moderated by Sebastiano Toffaletti, DIGITAL SME)

This session will focus on current standardisation activities in AI. It will provide an overview of ongoing standardisation activities, e.g. in the field of AI ethics, security standards or existing standards for instance in machinery, which may need to be updated to accommodate the development of AI. AI standards should help to (1) strike a balance between regulation and innovation, and (2) define robust guidelines for effective competition. At the same time, standards can contribute to policy objectives, e.g. in the area of AI ethics. Thus, one particular example where norms and standards interact is the field of Ethical AI[4].

Topics for discussion:

  • What standards are missing, and which areas does the EU need to focus on to support the uptake of AI?
    • Ethical AI standards: Are there available standards for ethical AI, and are they ready to be deployed? How do we build on our high standards in fundamental human rights and ethics in AI, and what are the current ethical AI standardisation activities at EU level? This can include an overview of IEEE’s global initiative for ethical consideration at AI and autonomous systems), focusing on how this can benefit SMEs.
    • Data access standards: Do we need more standardisation activities in the area of data access (data formats, APIs, etc.)?
    • Securing AI: Overview of standards in securing and protecting AI. How do these existing standards interact with AI?
  • Report on ongoing developments in CEN-CENELEC, ETSI. How do these activities take into account SMEs?
  • Do we need to use standardisation to make AI technologies a success for SMEs in Europe and if yes, how can we support these standardisation efforts?

Keynote speech: Ms. Eva Kaili, Member of the European Parliament (TBC)

Roundtable discussion with invited experts:

  • Ms. Eva Kaili, Member of the European Parliament (TBC)
  • Sebastian Hallensleben/Mr. Patrick Bezombes, CEN-CENELEC’s Focus Group on AI (TBC)
  • Alex Leadbeater, ETSI INDUSTRY SPECIFICATION GROUP (ISG) SECURING ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (SAI) (TBC)
  • Konstantinos Karachalios, IEEE-SA, ECPAIS (Ethics Certification Program for Autonomous and Intelligent Systems)
  • Joachim Lonien, Managing Partner, neurocat GmbH & Member of DIGITAL SME Focus Group on AI

12:40 – 13:05    Q&A

13:05 – 13:15    Closing remarks

  • Sebastiano Toffaletti (European DIGITAL SME Alliance)

 

SBS ICT Forum 2020

Registration


 

[1] https://starlab-alliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/The-Business-of-Artificial-Intelligence.pdf

[2] https://www.nber.org/papers/w24245.pdf

[3] See EC consultation: https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12270-White-Paper-on-Artificial-Intelligence-a-European-Approach/public-consultation.

[4] After almost one year, standardisation of Ethical AI is moving slowly. Currently, initiatives include the IEEE’s global initiative for ethical consideration at AI and autonomous systems,[4] and the ISO/IEC JTC 1 SC42,[4] in addition to industry initiatives such as the Facebook’s Fairness Flow,[4] but no European Standard(s) have been published yet.