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BCW's 2018 Report on Artificial IntelligenceAugust 21, 2018

BCW BrAInstorm Report Reveals Artificial Intelligence Can be a Force for Good if the European Union Sets its Strategy Right

Now is the Time to Lay the Foundations, say European Business Leaders and Policy Makers

BRUSSELS, March 21, 2018 – Artificial Intelligence (AI) is mostly a force for good, offering opportunities for business and society, according to the BrAInstorm Report – a groundbreaking survey of attitudes towards the emerging technology. Published by Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW), a top-three, full-service, global communications agency with deep expertise in digital and integrated communications and the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), the BrAInstorm Report showcases the results of surveys of three groups of key opinion formers: Businesses using AI, AI suppliers and policymakers. The consensus is overwhelmingly positive, with 85 percent of respondents saying AI is beneficial to society. Fewer than 2 percent of respondents said they were “very concerned” that AI will hamper their business success.

AI, like many new technologies, will affect jobs, the report says. But, there is a mixed forecast about the overall result: 34 percent of respondents say AI will create more jobs than it destroys, while 40 percent say the opposite.

“Nearly 60 percent of AI suppliers believe that end consumers are unaware of how companies use AI,” said Karen Massin, Burson Cohn & Wolfe Brussels CEO. “Our focus is on the transformative power of these technologies. As regulators and industries develop strategies to support AI, we hope our report can help shape the debate and promote innovation in this exciting technology.”

John Higgins, Burson Cohn & Wolfe’s Senior Advisor on digital technology, added that the BrAInstorm report should alleviate many of the popular fears about AI. “The key finding is that AI and machine learning may not be as scary as many people seem to think. Yet, 43 percent of businesses see AI as risky given the wide range of possible uncertainties. These results point to two broad conclusions. First, we need regular reports to capture the experience of those implementing AI. And second, we need a well-managed, multi-stakeholder dialogue on AI.”

When it comes to regulation, both businesses and policymakers generally foresee more regulation in this new area of technology. However, there is a clear difference in their views: Policymakers (54 percent) are much more likely to call for more regulation than businesses (30 percent). Among all groups, the priority policy area is civil law and justice, followed by healthcare.

CEPS Senior Research Fellow Andrea Renda says the BrAInstorm report shows how experts and practitioners believe that AI is here to stay. “The responses point to civil law and justice as the number-one priority area for public policy. In this respect, it is aligned with the EU institutions that have been taking action in that domain.”

AI is broadly defined as technology that mimics human-like intelligence. Policymakers and businesses are aware of the role it can play in sustaining productivity and social cohesion. Within the EU, the European Commission set up an expert group on AI on March 9, 2018, and is expected to release a strategy on AI in April, while the European Parliament published a report on the issue in January 2017.

The findings described here are based on a survey conducted by Burson Cohn & Wolfe in partnership with the Center for European Policy Studies. The survey was conducted online and via phone between February and March of 2018 of 188 key stakeholders, including senior executives and industry specialists, policy experts from relevant EU working groups, government representatives and chief executives from leading technology start-ups and small-medium sized enterprises.