How public money is shaping the future of AI

Report by Ethica: “The European Union aims to become the “home of trustworthy Artificial Intelligence” and has committed the biggest existing public funding to invest in AI over the next decade. However, the lack of accessible data and comprehensive reporting on the Framework Programmes’ results and impact hinder the EU’s capacity to achieve its objectives and undermine the credibility of its commitments. 

This research commissioned by the European AI & Society Fund, recommends publicly accessible data, effective evaluation of the real-world impacts of funding, and mechanisms for civil society participation in funding before investing further public funds to achieve the EU’s goal of being the epicenter of trustworthy AI.

Among its findings, the research has highlighted the negative impact of the European Union’s investment in artificial intelligence (AI). The EU invested €10bn into AI via its Framework Programmes between 2014 and 2020, representing 13.4% of all available funding. However, the investment process is top-down, with little input from researchers or feedback from previous grantees or civil society organizations. Furthermore, despite the EU’s aim to fund market-focused innovation, research institutions and higher and secondary education establishments received 73% of the total funding between 2007 and 2020. Germany, France, and the UK were the largest recipients, receiving 37.4% of the total EU budget.

The report also explores the lack of commitment to ethical AI, with only 30.3% of funding calls related to AI mentioning trustworthiness, privacy, or ethics. Additionally, civil society organizations are not involved in the design of funding programs, and there is no evaluation of the economic or societal impact of the funded work. The report calls for political priorities to align with funding outcomes in specific, measurable ways, citing transport as the most funded sector in AI despite not being an EU strategic focus, while programs to promote SME and societal participation in scientific innovation have been dropped….(More)”.