Executive Insights, June 2020

Europe needs to take the global AI-leadership

Kathrine Stampe Andersen

Vice Chair of the Board, 2021.AI

The role of emerging technologies such as robotics, blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, advanced manufacturing, and autonomous systems in business and the global economy is a hot topic. This is not surprising given that emerging technologies might lead to radical changes and improvements in the way people live, work, and think.

New technologies can set up powerful forces of changes. Emerging tech in general and AI, in particular, has the limitless potential to become more intelligent than any human being. It is a target for every existing industry across Europe, the US, and China, and businesses, governments, and nonprofits all over the world are starting to cash in on the value AI can deliver.

However, ethical questions around AI are queuing up. We have already seen this in areas such as medicine, military defense, data privacy, and law enforcement. Numerous instances of AI biases, discrimination and privacy violations have already littered the news: Should AI models drive us around? Raise our kids? Fight wars? Do our laundry? Replace human workers? How will AI replace entire work categories, especially in transportation, retail, government, professional services employment, and customer services? The line of questions is endless. These are fair questions to ask. Despite these dilemmas, we must not shy away from AI to avoid ethical issues.

As we stand at the beginning of the Post COVID-19 decade and the digital future, it is fair to say that no one (not even the great AI experts) know how emerging technologies will affect our lives and societies going forward. The global tech industry and digital innovations are moving so fast that it is impossible to forecast the landscape of the digital future. Or is it?

A global race for AI leadership

The technology is already transforming economies across the World. We are witnessing a race for AI leadership that has just started with China, the US, and Europe as the most significant competitors.

It is up to China, the US, and Europe to take the global AI-leadership and leverage AI-powered products, services, and goods in, e.g., medical treatments, climate-neutral solutions, green sustainability, and content creation to keep their position in the global race.

New research from McKinsey Global Institute (2019) finds that, on average, the 28 member states of the European Union (EU-28) could potentially add €2.7 trillion, or 19 percent, to GDP 2030, if we absorb AI according to our current competencies and assets. But AI technology transfer and commercialization of AI applications in business takes up more slowly than in the US and China.

Shaping the digital future is in the hands of human beings. It is in the hands of academics, business leaders and regulators, and shaped by our core values, choices, and actions. Emerging technologies are neither shaped in a vacuum nor an island. They are shaped, built, and deployed by us. So are AI and the technology depending on elections, deselections, and unconscious biases, which requires thoughtful leadership to prevent unintentional damage to workers, costumers, and society as a whole.

The power to shape the future AI landscape

The point here is that we have the power and responsibility to shape the future AI-landscape according to our European values and come up with answers to the ethical questions. That goes for transparency, privacy, equality, democracy, and fairness. Although it is tempting to leave these matters to data science leaders (since they are the AI experts), the vital role of the executive boards is to deliver on responsible AI systems. The executive board needs to have a strong knowledge of AI development to ensure that the right questions are being asked and prevent potential ethical issues. The board will need to clarify how values are translated into the selection of AI deployments to make sure we have the right metrics to evaluate AI, based on fairness to avoid bias.

2021.AI serves the growing need for applied AI across the globe, and we do that by insisting on a European mindset in everything we do. We do not wish to “move fast and break things.” We want to deliver on a long-term, sustainable AI-agenda by putting core values such as data transparency, unbiased AI structures, and ethical principles such as fairness and algorithmic bias as our top priority. Our guiding principle is to deliver full traceability and explainability of all data and model events and to secure this across our world-class AI platform, GRACE. Europe needs to take the global AI-leadership, and 2021.AI will deliver on that ambition.

That is why I have accepted the appointment as a member of the Board of Directors in 2021.AI and looking very much forward to join the world-class team.

Kathrine Stampe Andersen

Kathrine Stampe Andersen

Vice Chair of the Board, 2021.AI

Kathrine is a Vice Chair of the Board at 2021.AI. She has 10+ years of experience within tech, telco, and media industry. Her previous roles include Senior VP in the telecom incumbent TDC Group, as well as Market VP in The Danish Chamber of Commerce.

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