Artificial Intelligence: the European Commission outlines a European approach to boost investment and sets ethical guidelines

by Guenaelle Collet

Europe has world-class researchers, laboratories and start-ups in the field of AI. The EU is also strong in robotics. However, fierce international competition requires coordinated action for the EU to be at the forefront of AI development.

On 25 April, the European Commission published a series of measures to boost Europe’s competitiveness in the field of AI. The Commission’s approach is three-fold: it aims to increase public and private investment in AI, prepare for socio-economic changes, and ensure an appropriate ethical and legal framework.

On the financial support front, the Commission is increasing its investment to €1.5 billion for the period 2018-2020 under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

As regards socio-economic challenges and changes to the job market, the Commission is encouraging Member States to modernise their education and training systems and support labour market transitions. The Commission will also directly support business-education partnerships to attract and keep more AI talent in Europe and set up dedicated training schemes with financial support from the European Social Fund. Proposals under the EU’s next multiannual financial framework (2021-2027) will also include strengthened support for training in advanced digital skills, including AI-specific expertise.

As regards ethical and legal frameworks, the Commission would like to set standards for market players in the EU and position the EU industry on the global scene

It is soon to appoint a High Level Expert Group (HLEG) that will steer the work and contribute towards drafting ethical guidelines on AI developments by the end of 2018. Those guidelines should be based on the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, taking into account principles such as data protection and transparency, and building on the work of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies. To help develop these guidelines, the Commission will bring together all relevant stakeholders in a European AI Alliance. Parallel discussions on ethical guidelines are ongoing at G7 level.

Moreover, in order to further create an environment that stimulates investment, the Commission is proposing legislation to open up more data for re-use and measures to make data sharing easier. This covers data from public utilities and the environment as well as research and health data.

On 10 April, 25 Member States expressed their support for such EU positioning by signing a Declaration of cooperation on AI. The composition of the HLEG is expected to be announced in the end of May.

Learnings about France Télévisions’s first Startup Accelerator

The Innovation division and the MediaLab (the innovation structure for the News department) designed and implemented an internal start-up accelerator, with the help of Cap Digital and in partnership with the start-up Newsbridge.

After a selection panel, Newsbridge was selected to follow this 4-month acceleration program including :

  • being hosted within the editorial team from 23rd October 2017 ;
  • a « sponsorship» by a manager from the News department ;
  • the co-construction of a solution for indexing the shootings thanks to artificial intelligence, and a semantic search engine ;
  • an experimentation phase ;
  • supporting the start-up in its growth;
  • co-financing the project to reward the startup’s commitment.

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Karel De Bondt on Intrapreneurship

In this interview we talk to Karel De Bondt, an expert on intrapreneurship at VRT Sandbox

Hi Karel, you are an expert on intrapreneurship at VRT Sandbox. When and how did you take on that role?

I’ve been working at VRT Sandbox pretty much since the beginning. I started with running the startup cases themselves. Afterwards, I began working on an intrapreneurshiptrack, and a track on innovative video workflows.

What does intrapreneurship mean exactly?

At VRT Sandbox, we offer the same support to startups as to internal inventors. These intrapreneursare people with creative ideas, that program software, but also hardware. We want to offer them the same platform as the external companies. This means we will set up a collaboration with production teams and help them grow. We will offer training for pitching, sales and business analysis, as well as business development and so much more

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Gregg Young on VR and AR

In this interview we talk to Gregg Young, VR and AR expert at VRT Sandbox. Gregg explains the difference between AR and VR, and reflects on the trends and achievements in both fields.

 

Introduction to AR and VR

Hello, Gregg! You are a VR/AR expert at VRT Sandbox. Since when and how did you get that role in VRT Sandbox?

I started working at VRT in the Immersia TV project, this is a European project under the Horizon 2020 fund. This 2-year project is all about 360-video, multicam 360-video and sending the 360 footage to different devices. Together with other colleagues at VRT we are representing this technology on the news floor and with other VRT brands. This is how I slowly became member of VRT Sandbox. Since then we started to do a lot of VR and AR projects at VRT Sandbox as well.

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Research and Innovation in Animation

Animation is a dynamic sector which is flourishing and rapidly changing in terms of technology and audiences. It is a concrete example of collaboration, innovation and creativity. It is an industry which opens up great opportunities to the animators but at the same time financial limitations often lead to technological weaknesses and consequently, less competitiveness in the market. These aspects are presented below in an interview by our colleague from the European Coordination of Independent Producers (CEPI) with Philippe Alessandri; Philippe is Chairman of Animation Europe, the pan European Association which includes animation producer association within the EU, also active member in CEPI.

Liana Digka: How has digital innovation improved the quality of animated series and permitted to relocate production in Europe by increasing the productivity of the animation studios?

Philippe Alessandri: In the 90s, when I had my first contact with Animation, Asia was the place where the animation work was sub-contracted because of the low-cost services. The production was based on traditional means such as hand drawing and camera shooting. At that time, two French companies invented a digital system in order to produce animation electronically. It took 10 years for this technique to be completely accurate and to get enough well-trained artists to use it. With this technique the productivity increased and European production companies became more competitive vis-à-vis the Asian ones. This production optimisation combined with the tax incentives adopted by some European governments made it affordable to relocate production in Europe.

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From the ORF to Radiodays Europe: innovation in Vienna

Blogpost by Sarah Geeroms

I leave well in time to make it to Österreichischer Rundfunk (ORF) at 9:00AM. The Austrian public broadcaster is located outside the city center, but luckily, public transport in Vienna is well-organized. My contact person Karl, who is a member of the Technical Direction department, welcomes me upon my arrival. We meet at the online & TV center, that has about 1900 employees (out of almost 4000 in total). The radio station, where Karl was working for 20 years, is located in the city center. Just like VRT, ORF is going through an architectural transformation. Within a few years, all of ORF services will be grouped on the same location. TV and Radio will then be subdivided per program.

ORF has two large TV channels and two interest channels (culture and sports). They do not have a children’s channel, as they find almost all of their content in Germany.

Within their own country, there’s almost no competition: ORF has a turnover of 1 billion €, that’s huge!

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Robot journalism – Shall we be afraid?

Should we be afraid of robot journalism? Belgian journalist, Laurence Dierickx, has just dedicated her thesis on this question at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) asked her to share the result of her research which highlights the ability of robots in producing objective, accurate and comprehensive news stories, however, they may not be as readable those written by real journalists. Here is her article and we guarantee you that this one was not written by a robot.

 

Automatically generated content in the natural language (General Architecture for Text Engineering), which is a branch of the natural language processing (NLP), has been widely deployed in Europe when the French departmental elections took place on 22 March 2015. During the election coverage, more than 30,000 has been produced by robots by Le Monde in partnership with the Parisian start-up Syllabs.

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The challenges of fake news and the role of public service broadcasters in communicating Europe: the intake from EuroPCom 2017

Written by Luciano Morganti & Heritiana Ranaivoson

EuroPCom 2017

 

On the 9th and 10th of November 2017, the 8th edition of EuroPCom, the European Public Communication Conference, was held at the Committee of the Regions in Brussels. More than 1000 communication professionals attended the conference which has become, few years since its inception, the ‘must-attend’ annual event for communication managers and experts from local, regional, national and European authorities, as well as, in the most recent editions, academics, researchers and practitioners in the broad field of public and institutional communications.

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Media Honeypot and YLE introduce us to the cold north

Blogpost by Sarah Geeroms

A visit to Media Honeypot (http://mediahoneypot.com/ ) and YLE, the public broadcaster, brought me to Helsinki.

Media Honeypot started on Wednesday with an opening night. Colleague Judy from BBC was there too and that made the entrance a little easier. I spoke with many people, including the EBU technical committee who went to Helsiki to attend Media Honeypot and for their meeting Friday at YLE. They all turned out to be friendly, interesting people from across Europe. I could not resist and took the opportunity to ask if I could pitch my project to their group that Friday. Check! It was late when we arrived at the hotel again and I could start preparing this unexpected presentation.

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This was The Sandbox Hub – Cycle 1

Blogpost by Sarah Geeroms

I am thrilled! Today, Thursday February 8th our Sandbox Hub officially starts. If you know that many broadcasters are already working on media innovation, but that their expertise and learnings are not systematically shared, then you will understand why the creation of our Sandbox Hub is a milestone. In doing so, we are building a European network on media innovation, sharing our (innovative) knowledge and giving local startups a stepping stone to scale faster and more efficiently in Europe.
France TV, Swedish Radio and BBC are the first to join our network. We have therefore invited them to a two-day immersion at VRT Sandbox.

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