This also concerns public administration.

Dr. S-W – 05/2021

The EC published a White Paper on "Artificial Intelligence", COM(2020) 65 on February 19, 2020 The European Representation of German Social Insurance (DSV) commented on this in detail in a public consultation held on June 11, 2020, which can be found here.

The EC presented a regulation proposal about artificial intelligence as part of a package on April 21. The basic rules are very detailed and they will also have far-reaching implications for public administration.

AI might entail significant risks, not least with regard to realising basic human rights and the principle of equal treatment. Therefore, it is probably no coincidence that the controversial "automatic facial recognition” complex is given a high priority in the draft regulation.

The Commission has further elaborated on its "risk-based" regulatory approach already formulated in the White Paper and it now distinguishes between four levels. The top two risk levels are of particular interest from a social security perspective.

The highest risk level concerns those AI applications, whose use is considered legally/socially unacceptable and should be banned as a result. They mainly refer to "social scoring". The wording is not very precise in detail and it raises the question to what extent and for what purpose the creation of personality profiles is still permissible.

However, the main focus of the proposed regulation is on those applications that are considered to be 'only' 'high risk'. They will continue to be permitted in the future, but will be subject to a strict set of rules, including a number of documentation requirements. They are intended to allow the so-called "market surveillance authorities" to monitor compliance with the rules of the new regulation.  It must be taken into consideration here that the same yardstick applied to European basic human rights, including the prohibition of unjustified discrimination, will also be strictly applied to AI applications. It is difficult to predict the outcome of such mandatory checks. 

The proposal is also based on a very broad artificial intelligence concept It would probably cover many past programmes. Indirectly, Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, has confirmed this with the phrase "Although artificial intelligence has been with us for decades, it has now reached new dimensions due to increased computing power".

The accompanying "European approach to artificial intelligence", COM (2021) 205 final, notification that was released on the same date, refers to the prominent role played by artificial intelligence. Most recently, this had proven its potential in the fight against COVID-19. The EU plans to invest 1 billion euros a year in this technology. 20 billion euros a year would also come from the private sector and the member states, supported by the European Recovery and Development Plan. There is a close link to the European data strategy, including the proposed Data Governance Act and AI can only succeed if there is access to data.

As another part of the AI package, the Commission revised the Coordinated Artificial Intelligence Plan adopted in 2018, see COM (2021) 205 final. It calls on its member states to invest in AI, including infrastructure and "data spaces". A European "centres of excellence" network should support research and innovation. Finally, the EU should lead the way in strategic sectors, including healthcare and the public sector as a whole.