Last Wednesday the EU presented the first European AI- and data strategy. This revealed: To catch up with the USA and China, a boundless market for data is required. Companies and administrators must be in a position to get as much as possible out of their data assets – without having to rely on US providers.
If we look back at the more recent history of the European community of values, regulation was primarily conceived as a means of countering the supremacy of the US super-corporations Google and Facebook (the ancillary copyright law or the basic data protection regulation, to name just two examples) – in my opinion, however, it has often worked to the advantage of these companies. And, while the US corporations adapted their terms and conditions and conditions for data transfer and invoked user protection with other measures to strengthen their monopoly, such as the upcoming ban on third-party cookies in the Chrome Browser, the European digital economy has been burdened with more bureaucracy and limitations that make the race with Google and Amazon even more difficult. Thanks to the EU Commission’s data strategy, this is now set to end.
Europe as a global data hub
“Europe can keep up with the world leaders in the use and processing of data,” said Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market at the DLD Digital Conference in Munich at the end of January. “We are sitting on an enormous treasure of non-personalised data, of European data that we want to make available to the European economy,” said Breton. The race for the data is not lost, he said. Europe shall become a global data hub – the new strategy will help to achieve this. According to the European Commission, 25 percent of all industrial and professional service robots are already manufactured in Europe. And over 50 percent of the leading European manufacturers use AI. Over the next few years, the European Union plans to invest 20 billion euros annually in AI. By way of comparison, in 2016 this figure was just 3.2 billion euros.
In order to break the dependency on the USA, the EU strategy aims to create an internal market for data. In doing so, as with the EU internal market for goods, national borders will no longer prevent access to data. This is precisely what is important, because according to the European Tech Alliance (EUTA), over-regulation hinders innovation and investment in artificial intelligence. The EUTA is a group of tech companies, an expert in this field of all economic sectors that, for example, is promoting the topic of AI in Europe.
The digital industry needs protection and freedom
According to EUTA, Europe cannot become a pioneer in artificial intelligence with the current version of the e-privacy regulation. With the new EU strategy, the signs are hopefully pointing to a new beginning. Because only then will companies be able to use AI in a targeted manner and without unnecessary obstacles in order to provide customers with offers and services tailored to their interests.
The data and especially the AI strategy presented by the EU promises a necessary balance of economic interests, protection of the privacy of the individual and collective fear of losing control over their own creation, the potential monster AI. Today’s presented strategy underlines a shift in EU thinking towards freedom and self-responsibility – at least as important for the digital industry as for users, who have been given more protection but not more control over the way they handle their information through previous EU initiatives.
Making good and extensive use of the European data stock
It is a fact that data sovereignty and supremacy are the guiding values of the hour. This will be a benefit for those who want to do things differently, for new AI applications working intelligently with publicly available data instead of personal profiles, for applications implemented on a blockchain giving users more decision-making power and actual control over the use of their data, making them a participant in the digital value chain instead of a product, and ultimately for the European consumer.
According to the European Commission, the volume of data produced worldwide doubles every 18 months. Humanity produces about 40 zettabytes of data. That’s 40 billion terabytes. By 2025, most of it will no longer be generated by humans, but by machines. For Europe, as the largest industrial market, this is a great opportunity.
In her book “The Big Nine”, Amy Webb outlines three possible scenarios for the development of the global digital industry: an optimistic, a dystopian and a moderate scenario. For the former, the international community hopefully sets the course with its strategy by creating a framework whose core is the sovereignty of the individual in our information age.