Briefing – Artificial Intelligence and public services – 22-07-2021

AI has become a key enabling technology in public services and its use has increased over the past two years.Ensuring explainabilty of AI systems in public services is crucial but difficult to achieve in case of black-box algorithms. In AI applications in public services, focus is on law enforcement, surveillance and process optimisation. AI for front-end public services seems less of a priority. There is a growing public concern over the development and use of AI in society. With the increase of its use, the potential for errors and harms also increases.The public sector should lead the way in creating trustworthy AI. Regulatory sandboxing and pre-procurement are key for creating trustworthy AI for public services.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

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Briefing – Artificial Intelligence in smart cities and urban mobility – 23-07-2021

Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabling smart urban solutions brings multiple benefits, including more efficient energy, water and waste management, reduced pollution, noise and traffic congestions. Local authorities face relevant challenges undermining the digital transformation from the technological, social and regulatory standpoint, namely (i) technology and data availability and reliability, the dependency on third private parties and the lack of skills; (ii) ethical challenges for the unbiased use of AI; and (iii) the difficulty of regulating interdependent infrastructures and data, respectively. To overcome the identified challenges, the following actions are recommended: • EU-wide support for infrastructure and governance on digitalisation, including high performance computing, integrated circuits, CPUs and GPU’s, 5G, cloud services, Urban Data Platforms, enhancing efficiency and ensuring at the same time unbiased data collection. • Inclusion of urban AI in EU research programs addressing data exchange, communication networks and policy on mobility and energy, enhancing capacity building initiatives, also through test and experimentation facilities. • Harmonising AI related policies in the EU, taking into account the context specificity: necessary research. • Adoption of innovative procurement procedures, entailing requirements for technical and ethically responsible AI.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – Re-starting tourism in the EU amid the pandemic – 13-07-2021

Tourism plays an enormously important role in the EU economy and society. It generates foreign exchange, supports jobs and businesses, and drives forward local development and cultural exchanges. It also makes places more attractive, not only as destinations to visit but also as locations to live, work, invest and study. Furthermore, as tourism is closely linked with many other sectors – particularly transport – it also affects the wider economy. The coronavirus pandemic has hit the tourism sector hard. The impact on various tourist destinations in the EU has been asymmetrical and highly localised, reflecting differences in types of tourism on offer, varying travel restrictions, the size of domestic tourism markets, level of exposure to international tourism, and the importance of tourism in the local economy. At the beginning of summer 2021, several EU Member States started to remove certain travel restrictions (such as the requirements for quarantine or testing for fully vaccinated travellers coming from certain countries). However, all continue to apply many sanitary and health measures (such as limits on the number of people in common areas, and cleaning and disinfection of spaces). Such measures and restrictions change in line with the evolving public health situation, sometimes at short notice, making recovery difficult for the sector. The EU and its Member States have provided the tourism sector with financial and other support. Some measures were already adopted in 2020. Others were endorsed only shortly before the beginning of summer 2021. One flagship action has been the speedy adoption of an EU Digital Covid Certificate. This certificate harmonises, at EU level, proof of vaccination, Covid-19 test results and certified recovery from the virus. However, it does not end the patchwork of travel rules. Despite efforts to harmonise travel rules at Council level, Member States still apply different rules to various categories of traveller (such as children or travellers arriving from third countries).

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – Mental health and the pandemic – 09-07-2021

While the pandemic is primarily a physical health crisis, it has also had widespread impact on people’s mental health, inducing, among other things, considerable levels of fear, worry, and concern. The growing burden on mental health has been referred to by some as the ‘second’ or ‘silent’ pandemic. While negative mental health consequences affect all ages, young people, in particular, have been found to be at high risk of developing poor mental health. Specific groups have been particularly hard hit, including health and care workers, people with pre-existing mental health problems, and women. The pandemic has also appeared to increase inequalities in mental health, both within the population and between social groups. To address the population’s increased psycho-social needs, the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe established an expert group on the mental health impacts of Covid-19 in the European region. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has issued analyses and guidance on mental health in general and the pandemic’s impact on mental health in particular. At European Union level, a December 2020 European Commission communication addressed the pandemic’s impact on mental health. In May 2021, the Commission organised a major online stakeholder event, and published best practice examples of solutions presented. A July 2020 European Parliament resolution recognises mental health as a fundamental human right, calling for a 2021-2027 EU action plan on mental health. Members of the European Parliament have also called on the Commission to put mental health at the heart of EU policymaking. Stakeholders broadly rally around calls for programmes and funding to improve citizens’ mental health, not least to respond to the pandemic’s long-term implications.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

In-Depth Analysis – Artificial intelligence at EU borders: Overview of applications and key issues – 07-07-2021

The EU is actively exploring how AI technologies can be developed and adopted in order to improve border control and security. A number of applications for biometric identification, emotion detection, risk assessment and migration monitoring have already been deployed or tested at EU borders. AI technologies may bring important benefits for border control and security, such as increased efficiency, better fraud-detection and risk analysis. However, these powerful technologies also pose significant challenges, related in particular to their insufficient or varying accuracy and the multiple fundamental rights risks they entail (including bias and discrimination risks, data protection and privacy risks, and the risk of unlawful profiling).

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

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