European Union as an AI innovation advocate
Jan. 29, 2024

Why in news?

  • To address worries that Europe might be putting too many regulations on artificial intelligence (AI), the European Commission has introduced a set of rules.
  • These rules aim to help start-ups and other businesses get access to hardware like supercomputers and computing power and allows them to create large-scale AI models.
  • This move comes after the political agreement reached in December 2023 on the EU AI Act, which is the first-ever comprehensive law on AI in the world.
  • The goal of this law is to encourage the development, deployment, and use of trustworthy AI in the European Union (EU).

What’s in today’s article?

  • Europe’s AI innovation plan
  • Comparison with India’s AI plan

Europe’s AI innovation plan

  • The European Commission has launched a package of measures to support European startups and small businesses in the development of trustworthy AI.
  • The plan includes:
    • Acquiring, upgrading and operating AI-dedicated supercomputers to enable fast machine learning and training of large general-purpose AI (GPAI) models.
      • GPAI models are AI systems that can perform a wide range of tasks.
      • They can be applied to many different tasks in various fields, often without substantial modification and fine-tuning.
    • Facilitating access to the AI dedicated supercomputers, contributing to the widening of the use of AI to a large number of public and private users, including start-ups and SMEs.
    • Supporting the AI startup and research ecosystem in algorithmic development, testing evaluation and validation of large-scale AI models.
    • Enabling the development of a variety of emerging AI applications based on GPAI models.

Why is the EU especially focusing on AI innovation?

  • Overregulating AI
    • The most visible innovation in AI so far has been led by American companies, especially OpenAI and Google.
    • Europe has so far regulated technologies from a human-rights-first approach.
    • However, it was being accused by the industry of yet again regulating AI even before it has spread across the continent in a meaningful way.
  • Criticism of AI Act of December 2023
    • Last year, the European Commission agreed to implement an AI Act, but it has faced criticism.
    • The law sets rules for using AI in the EU, including clear guidelines for law enforcement agencies. Consumers can complain about any misuse of AI.
    • The Act also limits facial recognition technology and the use of AI to control people's behaviour.
    • Companies that break the rules will face strict penalties.
    • Governments can only use real-time biometric surveillance in public areas only when there are serious threats involved, such as terrorist attacks.

How is the EU’s plan similar to India’s?

  • As part of the programme being developed by India, the government wants to:
    • develop its own sovereign AI,
    • build computational capacity in the country, and
    • offer compute-as-a-service to India’s startups.
  • The capacity building will be done both within the government and through a public-private partnership model.
    • This highlights New Delhi’s intention to reap dividends of the impending AI boom which it envisions will be a crucial economic driver.
  • In total, India is looking to build a compute capacity of:
    • anywhere between 10,000 GPUs (graphic processing units) and 30,000 GPUs under the PPP model, and
    • an additional 1,000-2,000 GPUs through the PSU Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).
  • The government is exploring various incentive structures for private companies to set up computing centres in the country.
  • This includes:
    • a capital expenditure subsidy model which has been employed under the semiconductor scheme, a model where companies can be incentivised depending on their operational expenses; or
    • offering them a usage fee.
  • The government’s idea is to create a digital public infrastructure (DPI) out of the GPU assembly it sets up so that startups can utilise its computational capacity for a fraction of the cost.
    • The startups will not need to invest in GPUs which are often the biggest cost centre of such operations.