AI News, European Commission artificial intelligence

Is artificial intelligence a human rightsissue?

Written by Mihalis Kritikos, Artificial intelligence (AI) poses new risks for human rights, as diverse as non-discrimination, privacy, security, freedom of expression, freedom of association, the right to work and access to public services.

The current discussion focuses on whether and how the EU could develop a human rights-based approach to AI, given that there are no established methodologies to track effects/harm on human rights, to identify who is being excluded from AI systems and to assess the potential for discrimination in the use of machine learning.

More specifically, the European Commission communication on artificial intelligence for Europe (April 2018), launching the EU strategy on AI, made particular reference to the need to invest in people as a cornerstone of a human-centric, inclusive approach to AI, and reaffirmed its support for research into human-AI interaction and cooperation.

The guidelines ask all stakeholders to evaluate possible effects of AI on human beings and the common good, and to ensure that AI is human-centric: AI should be developed, deployed and used with an ‘ethical purpose’, grounded in, and reflective of, fundamental rights, societal values and the ethical principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy of humans, and justice.

The recently adopted European Parliament resolution on a comprehensive European industrial policy on artificial intelligence and robotics makes explicit reference to the need for Europe to take the lead on the global stage by deploying only ethically embedded AI.

It recommends that the Member States establish AI ethics monitoring and oversight bodies and encourage companies developing AI to set up ethics boards and draw up ethical guidelines for their AI developers, and requests an ethics-by-design approach that will facilitate the embedding of values such as transparency and explainability in the development of AI.


Only nine months after CLAIRE was launched as a grassroots initiative, it has become a large, pan-European organisation, comprising over 250 AI research groups and institutes that jointly represent over 7500 AI experts and support staff.

It is now supported by over 2700 individual AI experts and stakeholders across all of Europe, as well as by a large number of Europe’s leading organisations in AI research, including DFKI (Germany), the largest AI research institute in the world, as well as three of Europe’s largest research organizations with a major focus on AI;

CLAIRE has released an open letter addressed to the political leadership of the European Union, its member states and affiliated countries, calling for a commitment to strong collaboration across all European nations, including the UK, on research and innovation in artificial intelligence, ​regardless of the future relationship between the UK and the EU.

The letter, available online at​ ​​, has been signed by more than 450 artificial intelligence experts and stakeholders from 24 European countries and beyond, including over 330 leading scientists.

In response to the official request for feedback on the draft ethics guidelines for trustworthy artificial intelligence prepared by the HLEG AI, over the last three weeks, CLAIRE has been running a carefully designed, open process aimed at providing the European Commission –

CLAIRE’s IAG ELS, a group of 9 leading experts on ethical, legal and social issue has carefully analysed the draft guidelines and produced an official response of CLAIRE, which has been submitted via the AI Alliance platform as official input to the European Commission’s high-level expert group on artificial intelligence (HLEG AI).

With this response to the European Commission’s request for discussion and feedback, the AI community, as organised in CLAIRE, has demonstrated the degree to which it is motivated and fully capable to provide meaningful input to the commission’s processes regarding AI in a way that engages thousands of AI experts and stakeholders.

Our hope is that our feedback with help the HLEG and the Commission to further improve the draft ethics guidelines, for the benefit of the European AI community and all its stakeholders, including the citizens of Europe, whose lives will be touched by the outcome of this process.

Over the last 7 days, 117 academic research groups and institutions from 19 European countries have joined the CLAIRE Network,  covering all areas of AI and comprising a total of over 3000 people (see

The IAGs ( have been formed with key supporters that have proactively and consistently worked with us to make CLAIRE a success, in a way that captures geographic diversity within Europe, and with a focus on well-connected and highly respected researchers.

The goal of the symposium was to elaborate a common European strategy for excellence in artificial intelligence, and to provide guidance to European and national decision makers on the major investments in AI needed to ensure a leadership role for Europe in AI research and innovation.

We see much value in the ELLIS proposal for supporting excellence in machine learning and fields directly impacted by machine learning in Europe, and we are pleased to be working with supporters of the ELLIS initiative towards realising our common goals.

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