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Artificial intelligence: How does it work, why does it matter, and what can we do about it?

28-06-2020

Artificial intelligence (AI) is probably the defining technology of the last decade, and perhaps also the next. The aim of this report is to support meaningful reflection and productive debate about AI by providing accessible information about the full range of current and speculative techniques and their associated impacts, and setting out a wide range of regulatory, technological and societal measures that could be mobilised in response.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is probably the defining technology of the last decade, and perhaps also the next. The aim of this report is to support meaningful reflection and productive debate about AI by providing accessible information about the full range of current and speculative techniques and their associated impacts, and setting out a wide range of regulatory, technological and societal measures that could be mobilised in response.

How digital technology is easing the burden of confinement

25-05-2020

The coronavirus pandemic is bringing an unforeseen acceleration in the digital transformation of societies around the world. This is the first pandemic in history in which digital technologies are being used on a massive scale to keep people connected while in isolation, allowing them to telework, follow online courses, shop online or consult health professionals from home. As a result, internet traffic has increased substantially since confinement began. According to EU Member States' national regulators ...

The coronavirus pandemic is bringing an unforeseen acceleration in the digital transformation of societies around the world. This is the first pandemic in history in which digital technologies are being used on a massive scale to keep people connected while in isolation, allowing them to telework, follow online courses, shop online or consult health professionals from home. As a result, internet traffic has increased substantially since confinement began. According to EU Member States' national regulators, operators have so far been able to manage this surge, while also introducing many exceptional measures, such as temporarily removing broadband data caps and making extra data and free online content available. The current crisis has highlighted the importance that upgraded telecoms networks and 5G will have for societies and economies. Furthermore, now that confinement has started to ease, it is increasingly clear that digital technology will continue to play a very important longer-term role in controlling the spread of the coronavirus. The scope of contact-tracing apps is likely to expand, and teleworking, telehealth and e-learning are likely to become more prevalent than before. However, the most popular digital apps, whether for e-commerce, social media, videoconferencing or contact tracing are not of EU origin, posing concerns for the EU's digital dependency, competitive advantage and data privacy. In fact, the coronavirus crisis has further consolidated the existing dominance of 'Big Tech'. The pandemic has further exacerbated existing issues; for instance, the digital divide has broadened further and there has been a global rise in cybersecurity incidents. The EU is poised to tackle these issues, while at the same time embracing the digital transformation in our lifestyles and allowing the internet to play a critical role in defeating the virus.

Potentially negative effects of internet use

13-05-2020

It is increasingly recognised that the internet, in spite of all its benefits to society, can also be correlated with significant harms to individuals and society. Some of these harms have been studied extensively, particularly harms to privacy, harms associated with security and cybercrime, and harms resulting from digital divides. This report covers less studied but equally important harms: harms associated with internet use that concern the health, well-being a functioning of individuals, and ...

It is increasingly recognised that the internet, in spite of all its benefits to society, can also be correlated with significant harms to individuals and society. Some of these harms have been studied extensively, particularly harms to privacy, harms associated with security and cybercrime, and harms resulting from digital divides. This report covers less studied but equally important harms: harms associated with internet use that concern the health, well-being a functioning of individuals, and the impact on social structures and institutions. The ultimate aim of the study is to develop concrete policy options to be considered by the EU Institutions and Member States, to mitigate negative effects of the internet for European citizens.

Policy Departments' Monthly Highlights - February 2020

10-02-2020

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

Using technology to 'co-create' EU policies

17-01-2020

What will European Union (EU) decision-making look like in the next decade and beyond? Is technological progress promoting more transparent, inclusive and participatory decision-making at EU level? Technology has dramatically changed both the number and quality of connections between citizens and public administrations. With technological progress, citizens have gained improved access to public authorities through new digital communication channels. Innovative, tech-based, approaches to policy-making ...

What will European Union (EU) decision-making look like in the next decade and beyond? Is technological progress promoting more transparent, inclusive and participatory decision-making at EU level? Technology has dramatically changed both the number and quality of connections between citizens and public administrations. With technological progress, citizens have gained improved access to public authorities through new digital communication channels. Innovative, tech-based, approaches to policy-making have become the subject of a growing debate between academics and politicians. Theoretical approaches such as ‘CrowdLaw’, ‘Policy-Making 3.0’, ‘liquid’, ‘do-it-yourself’ or ‘technical’ democracy and ‘democratic innovations’ share the positive outlook towards technology; and technology is seen as the medium through which policies can be ‘co-created’ by decision-makers and stakeholders. Co-creation is mutually beneficial. Decision-makers gain legitimacy by incorporating the skills, knowledge and expertise of citizens, who in turn have the opportunity to shape new policies according to their needs and expectations. EU institutions are at the forefront of experimentation with technologically innovative approaches to make decision-making more transparent and accessible to stakeholders. Efforts in modernising EU participatory channels through technology have evolved over time: from redressing criticism on democratic deficits, through fostering digital interactions with stakeholders, up to current attempts at designing policy-making in a friendly and participative manner. While technological innovation holds the promise of making EU policy-making even more participatory, it is not without challenges. To begin with, technology is resource consuming. There are legal challenges associated with both over- and under-regulation of the use of technology in policy-making. Furthermore, technological innovation raises ethical concerns. It may increase inequality, for instance, or infringe personal privacy.

The mental health of workers in the digital era

15-01-2020

This briefing aims to provide EMPL Committee Members (and other readers) with an insight into how recent technical innovation and its pace affect the mental well-being of workers. It summarises the findings of the relevant literature and identifies areas requiring further research or data collection.

This briefing aims to provide EMPL Committee Members (and other readers) with an insight into how recent technical innovation and its pace affect the mental well-being of workers. It summarises the findings of the relevant literature and identifies areas requiring further research or data collection.

Is data the new oil? Competition issues in the digital economy

08-01-2020

The global debate on the extent to which current competition policy rules are sufficient to deal with the fast-moving digital economy has never been more pertinent. An important part of this debate concerns the market power of large high-tech companies that dominate many online markets. The main factors behind these developments are economies of scale and scope, network externalities, and the rising economic significance of data, which are a highly valuable commodity in an online economy. While being ...

The global debate on the extent to which current competition policy rules are sufficient to deal with the fast-moving digital economy has never been more pertinent. An important part of this debate concerns the market power of large high-tech companies that dominate many online markets. The main factors behind these developments are economies of scale and scope, network externalities, and the rising economic significance of data, which are a highly valuable commodity in an online economy. While being indispensable to the development of potential game changers – such as artificial intelligence – data are also a crucial input to many online services, production processes, and logistics – making it a critical element in the value chain of many different industries. Data-dependent markets are also characterised by a high level of concentration and, according to many experts, high entry barriers relating to access to and ownership of data – which make it difficult to challenge the incumbent companies. On the other hand, the large players are generally considered to be very productive and innovative. Some studies, however, show that the diffusion of know-how and innovation between the market leaders and the rest of the economy may be affecting competiveness in general. One possible way to correct these shortcomings is to regulate the sharing of data. While the risks of policy-making in this field are generally well-known and centre around the need to protect privacy – particularly where personal data are involved – and to prevent the collusive aspects of data sharing, there is currently no global model to follow. The European Union has taken multiple initiatives to unlock data markets through modern, user-centred laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the regulation on the reuse of public sector information. The global thinking seems to gradually favour more prudent oversight of the market, considering its economic heft.

Arts in the digital era

21-11-2019

Arts and technology have always been inter-related. Artistic expression has been facilitated thanks to technological innovation that enabled artists either to adapt technologies meant for other purposes, or to invent them as a way to foster the creative process. The past 30 years have seen the rapid development and deployment of digital technology, and an ever-increasing use of information and communications technologies for all sorts of needs, including artistic expression. One of the most recent ...

Arts and technology have always been inter-related. Artistic expression has been facilitated thanks to technological innovation that enabled artists either to adapt technologies meant for other purposes, or to invent them as a way to foster the creative process. The past 30 years have seen the rapid development and deployment of digital technology, and an ever-increasing use of information and communications technologies for all sorts of needs, including artistic expression. One of the most recent innovations, artificial intelligence, has already found its way into artists' studios and the creative process. The European Union faces international competition not only with regard to technological progress and art markets but also to the use of new technologies for artistic expression. Therefore, to keep their competitive edge, EU artists need to acquire skills and competences also in high-tech fields, and the research and innovation community needs to keep abreast of evolving developments. The EU is soon to adopt its financial framework for the next budgetary period (2021-2027) and is discussing the levels of funding for its various support programmes, such as those for research and innovation, for cultural and artistic activities, and for the accomplishment of its digital single market, which among other things allows diverse operators and consumers to meet and interact. The discussions on these funding programmes also touch upon funds for projects on the interaction between arts and technology.

A fresh look at the future of work in the EU

24-10-2019

Economic and technical changes are redrawing the map of the world of work: new jobs are appearing while others are becoming obsolete, and atypical work patterns are replacing full-time work and open-ended contracts. In addition, work is increasingly being carried out on online platforms connecting buyers and sellers, or by large project teams across borders and time zones. Robotics and digitalisation raise new questions, as machines progressively replace the human workforce for routine tasks, and ...

Economic and technical changes are redrawing the map of the world of work: new jobs are appearing while others are becoming obsolete, and atypical work patterns are replacing full-time work and open-ended contracts. In addition, work is increasingly being carried out on online platforms connecting buyers and sellers, or by large project teams across borders and time zones. Robotics and digitalisation raise new questions, as machines progressively replace the human workforce for routine tasks, and new types of professional and personal skills are required to respond to technological progress. Active labour-market policies are gradually adapting to the changing reality in the world of work. This concerns social security systems, which increasingly face include new, and constantly changing requirements, as well as ethical and practical problems relating to robotics. The EU focuses on protecting workers' rights while ensuring innovation, as the examples of the recently adopted Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions and the establishment of the new European Labour Authority illustrate. The need for the new digital skills that are essential to successfully master the challenges of the new working environment also continues to grow. This is an update of an earlier Briefing on the Future of work in the EU, from April 2017, PE 599.426.

Digital challenges for Europe [What Think Tanks are thinking]

18-10-2019

The rapid development of digital technologies is posing a challenge to the European Union, spurring initiatives to catch up with the US and China in the area, notably in the context of the digital single market. Among the dilemmas are how to reconcile Europe’s sensitivity towards protecting private data with the need to use them in many algorithms, and ensure that automation and artificial intelligence strengthen rather than weaken labour market participation. This note offers links to a series of ...

The rapid development of digital technologies is posing a challenge to the European Union, spurring initiatives to catch up with the US and China in the area, notably in the context of the digital single market. Among the dilemmas are how to reconcile Europe’s sensitivity towards protecting private data with the need to use them in many algorithms, and ensure that automation and artificial intelligence strengthen rather than weaken labour market participation. This note offers links to a series of some recent commentaries and reports from major international think tanks and research institutes on digital challenges. Many earlier papers on the issue can be found in a previous item in the series, published in July 2018. Many reports on cybersecurity are available in a publication from October 2018.

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