The European Commission’s White Paper on Artificial Intelligence (AI) published today shines a light on some critical issues facing the development of the technology in Europe.  Safety, transparency and accountability are rightly top of mind. If taken forward in the right way, the conclusions set out in today’s whitepaper could help unlock the benefits of AI for European industry and citizens and position the continent as a global leader in AI driven by public acceptance and trust in the technology.

Here are some thoughts on how we can get there.

AI and Business

First and foremost, AI must help drive economic growth and productivity. AI has tremendous potential to become an important technology across all sectors enabling new capabilities that serve communities and companies.  It has already helped support fraud detection in the banking industry and improved customer service via telephone and online. AI has driven business transformation as it unlocked efficiencies in supply chains and improved productivity. But it can do much more.

Cisco’s 2018 White Paper on business transformation and AI found that 83% of executives believe that AI is a strategic priority for their business and 75% of of executives surveyed say that AI will allow them to move into new businesses and ventures. This paper also highlighted how AI can help businesses hire and retain talent with 95% of recruiters stating that AI can greatly enhance talent acquisition and retention creating environments for workers that are engaged, empowered and inspired at work.

To unlock that potential, we need to see the European Commission and national governments invest in AI-relevant R&D programs and incentivise businesses to do likewise.  We need a major focus on commercialisation of R&D in European AI with new programs that bring together businesses, universities and researchers to collaborate and bring new ideas to market. And we need to rethink how we approach data-related skills to allow Europe to develop its AI capacity in the coming years.

So, in this increasingly connected world, Cisco believes that through the use of AI, businesses of all sizes can and will unlock potential in people and processes and will bring innovation and opportunities to all sectors and on a global scale.

AI in Society

AI also has an incredible part to play on society, solving some of the toughest challenges we face including the climate emergency and major health issues.  Cisco is proud to partner with UCL, helping to support the development of AI for the benefit of society.

We have also been supporting the use of AI technology to deliver a huge range of societal benefits like protecting wildlife in Africa and better enabling medical professionals to improve the support they offer to patients.   Furthermore, through our  connected classrooms, we are able to utilize AI to give access education remotely for students.

Funding programmes that bring policy makers, businesses and researchers together in the pursuit of AI-driven solutions to societal challenges should be scaled up. As for Cisco, our AI technology continues to develop and our Cisco’s commitment to using this to tackle these societal challenges remain an important focus for us as ever.

Building trust in AI

Finally, at Cisco we understand just how important it is to build trust into our technology.  AI will be used for bad as well as good, and we know that certain actors will either attempt to exploit the technology for abusive purposes, or not deploy effective protections against adverse human rights impacts.

At Cisco, we believe action can be taken to minimize these impacts. We work to identify potentially harmful uses of Machine Learning and AI and to build in safeguards on security, human rights and privacy at all stages of a technology’s development. We also support academic programs that enhance ethics and human rights in technical and engineering professions.

Central to building trust is building in the development and deployment of AI through businesses validating and auditing their data, ensuring the right level of transparency in engaging with end users on AI and ensuring that government action is proportionate and well-targeted on the highest risk applications.

So, to conclude, it is our goal at Cisco to continue our engagement with the European Commission and policy makers around the world to ensure trusted AI enhances productivity and delivers benefits to society.

You can read more about Cisco’s AI and ML business here.


Matt Houlihan

Public Policy Director

Government Affairs