Artificial Intelligence in practice

APPLiA on the EU Commission's White Paper

As becoming a world leader in trustworthy Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the top priorities of the newly established EU mandate, stakeholders are kicking off the discussion starting from the very basics: what is AI? Following the publication of the EU Commission’s White Paper in February 2020, the home appliance sector has added its take on the conversation during the consultation phase, stressing that a clear and coherent definition of AI is the bedrock of the discussion. Not only is AI adding value to the EU’s digital portfolio, but it is also framing the “future sustainable economic growth and societal wellbeing” of the region, as per the words of the Commission.

On the consumer side, interest in intelligent technologies is increasing, making it desirable to own a smart fridge that helps out with groceries or a dishwasher that starts when the energy cost is at its cheapest. Market trends show that this is not a short-lived phenomenon, but that increased consumer interest in owning smart home appliances will continue to rise, making it a priority for the sector to satisfy consumer needs.

“AI consists of algorithms” commented Paolo Falcioni, APPLiA’s DG, “- a set of rules - that are designed by humans. To carry out a complex task, AI processes the data collected and uses it to determine the best way to perform the given task.” By accumulating experiences, intelligent systems can improve their performance. As for the algorithms, they are locked by manufacturers before the product is placed on the market, excluding the possibility that a device behaves in a way that wasn’t intended.

In its White Paper, the EU Commission also addresses the level of risk involved in AI products, suggesting that these technologies are not all the same and that devices should instead belong to different categories, according to a risk-based approach. In this context, a classification of the potential risk inherent in the product would acknowledge the different levels of risk that some AI-embedded products could pose in comparison to others.

Within the evolving discussion, the home appliance sector demonstrates practical applications of Artificial Intelligence as an example of a thriving and innovative EU sector and highlights the international nature of the debate. “Promoting a global understanding of AI will ensure a level playing field and avoid unfair competition, turning the EU’s digital ambition into a valuable asset.”, Paolo Falcioni added. “At the same time, adopting an harmonised approach at national level will be crucial to preventing the risk that divergent national legislation on AI would fragment the single market. Making AI work in practice.”