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Published: 2018-12-19

Expert Group presents draft ethics guidelines on AI

NEWS The European High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence has released a first draft of its ethics guidelines for the development and use of artificial intelligence. Professor Virginia Dignum, Umeå University, is one of the 52 international experts.

In the document, the independent group of 52 experts coming from academia, business and civil society, sets out how developers and users can make sure AI respects fundamental rights, applicable regulation and core principles, and how the technology can be made technically robust and reliable.

Responsible AI

One of the 52 experts in the group is Professor Virginia Dignum, Umeå University, Sweden. She is one of the most respected voices internationally in the field of responsible AI and a leader of the research group Social and Ethical Artificial Intelligence at Umeå University.

"Responsible AI, i.e. taking ethical, societal, legal and economic impact into consideration, is much more than the ticking of some ethical 'boxes' in a report, or the development of some add-on features for AI systems. Awareness of the ethical consequences of AI development is a fundamental condition for trustworthy AI and should be one of the core stances underlying AI research, development, deployment and use," Virginia Dignum says.

"I truly believe that taking ethical and societal impact central will be the only way to advance AI," Virginia Dignum stresses.

Download Draft Ethics guidelines for trustworthy AI.

The guidelines are a way to start a dialogue on the issues of AI. This is also the reason that the draft is published for comments.

"We really want to get the input from everyone interested, in Europe and outside Europe," Virginia Dignum says.

She stakes out her opinion on this matter in a very clear and definite way.

"Ultimately I hope that all AI will be responsible AI," she says.

Open for comments

The draft Ethics Guidelines are now open for comments until 18 January and discussions are taking place through the European AI Alliance, the EU's multi-stakeholder platform on AI.

When the draft was published Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip and Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel thanked the group for their work.

"AI can bring major benefits to our societies, from helping diagnose and cure cancers to reducing energy consumption. But for people to accept and use AI-based systems, they need to trust them, know that their privacy is respected, that decisions are not biased. The work of the expert group is very important in this regard and I encourage everyone to share their comments to help finalise the guidelines," the Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip said.

Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel added:

"The use of artificial intelligence, like the use of all technology must always be aligned with our core values and uphold fundamental rights. The purpose of the ethics guidelines is to ensure this in practice. Since this challenge concerns all sectors of our society, it is important that everybody can comment and contribute to the work in progress. Please join the European AI Alliance and let us have your feedback!"

In March 2019, the expert group will present their final guidelines to the Commission, which will analyse them and propose how to take this work forward. The ambition is then to bring Europe's ethical approach to the global stage. The Commission is opening up cooperation to all non-EU countries that are willing to share the same values.

Download Draft Ethics guidelines for trustworthy AI.

Give your input on the draft Ethics Guidelines.


Following its European approach on AI published in April 2018, the Commission set up a High-Level Expert Group on AI, which consists of 52 independent experts representing academia, industry, and civil society. This first draft Ethics Guidelines were prepared through a number of meetings since June 2018 and takes into account feedback from many discussions through the European AI Alliance. It also follows the announcements of the EU coordinated plan with the Member States, the Declaration of Cooperation on AI and the proposed investment of at least €7 billion in AI from the Horizon Europe and Digital Europe programmes.