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EU Commissioner Jourová: EU must protect data in AI development

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Prague, May 9 (CTK) – Digitisation and artificial intelligence (AI) should develop in the Czech Republic and Europe without too much regulation, but with respect to the protection of privacy and personal data, European Commissioner Vera Jourova said during a public discussion on AI in Prague on Wednesday.

Jourova, who represents the Czechs in the European Commission and is in charge of justice, consumer protection and gender issues, said the European path is different from the American and Chinese paths.

The United States and China use personal data freely, which is used by corporations in the USA and the state supervision in China, she said.

Jourova said the European Union is considering whether to use AI in defence and military affairs or not.

Czech State Secretary of European Affairs, Ales Chmelar, said neither the Czech Republic nor the EU seem to have a chance to become a leader in AI, however, they may push through partial steps in the AI development.

One of the successful steps is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and consumer standards are another, for example in food safety, Chmelar said.

Michal Pechoucek, who heads the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the Czech Technical University (CVUT), said Czechs contribute to the AI development especially by producing top experts. He recalled that his former students developed a computer programme that beat a human player in poker. The Czech Republic also has a good starting position in programmes for image recognition, he said.

Pechoucek said Europe is slowed down by the way it processes data to a certain extent. The biggest package of data is in China where the data are available to the state. The factors crucial for AI developments are the algorithms and the data volume and the USA and China are fighting for the leading position, Pechoucek said.

He said the Czech Republic should focus on fields in which it is strong, namely the automotive industry and applying AI in production automation.

Marco Pancini, who is in charge of public policy and government relations in Google, said his company trained 40,000 people in digital literacy in the Czech Republic in 2016-17.

According to the Eurostat survey from 2016, the Czech Republic lags behind other EU countries in digital literacy.

Pancini said Europe must get ready for a transformation after which up to 90 percent of jobs will require digital skills.

The debate on Artificial Intelligence as an Opportunity for the Czech and European Economy was organised by the Institute for Politics and Society think tank on Wednesday.

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