Artificial Intelligence is the technology with which computers can extract the information embedded in large amounts of unstructured data and develop a capacity to take decisions on cases not yet seen, in a process of machine learning. Based on this technology, machines can develop capacities very close to those of an experienced human worker, e.g. drive complex machinery (or vehicles) or take decisions (including expert-like decisions such as diagnostic for maintenance) based on experience.

“Artificial Intelligence can bring large improvements in the efficiency of European industry. We need it to keep our companies at the forefront of competition”, stated Luc Triangle, General Secretary of industriAll Europe. “However, we do have significant concerns regarding its social and societal impact”.

The main social and societal concerns of industriAll Europe regarding Artificial Intelligence (AI) are:

  • the impact on employment, as in all previous cases in history when machines could replace human work – with the additional issue that the work in question is highly qualified
  • the capture by machines of the experience and know-how of workers – the consequences of which can be aggravated if digital giants hold a monopolistic grip on the underlying data
  • the embedding of conservatism into software: AI relies on the assumption that the future will be identical to the past, with no change nor innovation possible. AI risks reproducing the status quo forever – including any discrimination bias present in our societies. In the current state of science, AI-based systems can neither explain nor justify their decisions/recommendations, so that they also embed the conservative “argument from authority”: there is no other justification given than an opaque reliance on experience.

“We want to take the Commission at their word when it claims ‘a human-centric, inclusive approach to AI’ that ‘benefits people and society as a whole’”, concluded Luc Triangle. “IndustriAll Europe will contribute to this debate to the best of its means, in the interest of European industrial workers”.

•    European Commission: Artificial Intelligence for Europe {SWD(2018) 137}
•    industriAll Europe: Policy Brief “Sharing the value added of industrial Big Data fairly”