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  • David Hubert

EU State of the Union - IPCC for AI and access to supercomputers



In her State of the Union 2023, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made two interesting announcements about AI; the desire to create a global panel of experts on AI and a new initiative which will give EU AI startups access to supercomputers.


Framing the work done so far by her Commission, Von der Leyen said that Europe, together with partners, should lead the way on a new global framework for AI, built on three pillars:


1. Guardrails. Namely the AI Act which will likely be approved by early next year.


2. Governance. The President said she wanted to see the creation of a global body which would advise policymakers on the impact of AI in our societies - similar to the IPCC for climate. "IPCC makes an invaluable contribution in providing the latest science on climate change to policymakers. I believe we need a similar body for AI – on the risks and its benefits for humanity, with scientists, tech companies and independent experts all around the table,” von der Leyen said. “This will allow us to develop a fast and globally coordinated response.”


3. Guiding innovation. Von der Leyen called for the Big Tech companies to commit to the principles of the AI Act before it comes into force. She also stated that earlier this year the G7 agreed to develop a joint code of conduct in AI but she stressed the importance of working towards minimum global standards for safe and ethical use of AI.


The President also said that Europe should leverage its position as the leader in supercomputing; she announced a new initiative to open up high-performance computers to AI start-ups to train their models (the EU has eight supercomputers which are sited around the bloc, often located in research institutions).


Elaborating on von der Leyen’s announcement in a blog post, Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, explained: "We will launch the EU AI Start-Up Initiative, leveraging one of Europe’s biggest assets: Its public high-performance computing infrastructure. We will identify the most promising European start-ups in AI and give them access to our supercomputing capacity.”

“Access to Europe’s supercomputing infrastructure will help start-ups bring down the training time for their newest AI models from months or years to days or weeks. And it will help them lead the development and scale-up of AI responsibly and in line with European values,”. He also pointed to the development of regulatory sandboxes under the incoming AI Act, and efforts to boost AI research via the European Partnership on AI, Data and Robotics and the HorizonEurope research program.

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