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In this Morning Brief, we give you news about the world’s first AI treaty that can possibly come to fruition, an ESIR virtual seminar, the European Commission makes software available to all to benefit businesses, innovators and areas of public interest, and more!

Any comments or suggestions, hit me up with an email on teresa.carvalho@inesc.pt.

In today's Morning Brief:

In today’s Morning Brief:

The world’s first AI treaty

Following an intense plenary last week, the Council of Europe’s Ad hoc Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAHAI) has finished its recommendation for a legally binding treaty on artificial intelligence that would protect democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The treaty could be ratified by the Council of Europe’s 47 member countries, which also include Russia and Turkey. The U.S., Canada, Japan and Mexico have also been involved in the AI initiative.

CAHAI recommends that the treaty include impact assessments, risk classifications and principles for AI development. The treaty should apply to all AI applications, but focus on “potential risks emanating from the development, design and application of AI systems for the purposes of law enforcement, the administration of justice, and public administration.” However, the use of AI in healthcare, education and granting social benefits and some such should be addressed through sectoral rules.

CAHAI’s recommendation will be discussed among member country ministers in February, and negotiations start by May. There will also be a new Committee of Artificial Intelligence (CAI), which will negotiate the text. The negotiations should wrap up by November 2023, and could be ratified by 2024.

Protect, prepare and transform Europe – ESIR virtual seminar

The High-Level Expert Group on “The Economic and Societal Impact of Research and Innovation” (ESIR) has been advising the Commission on how to develop a forward-looking and transformative R&I policy.

Established shortly before the Covid-19 outbreak, the ESIR Group has provided stimulating inputs on how to chart our way from the crisis and leverage R&I to facilitate the twin digital and green transitions, boost Europe’s competitiveness and promote crisis preparedness.

ESIR’s “protect-prepare-transform” vision makes a strong case for a powerful transformative R&I policy in a post-pandemic world that can enable and accelerate the transformations of our economies and societies and support a just recovery.

On Wednesday 15 December, click here to watch the webstream at 10h00 CET!

Commission makes software available to all to benefit businesses, innovators and areas of public interest

The European Commission has adopted new rules on Open Source Software that will enable its software solutions to be publicly accessible whenever there are possible benefits for citizens, companies or other public services.

A recent Commission study on the impact of Open Source Software and Hardware on technological independence, competitiveness and innovation in the EU economy showed that investment in open source leads on average to four times higher returns.

Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, said: “The Commission aims to lead Europe’s digital transition by example. With the new rules, the Commission will bring significant value to companies, start-ups, innovators, citizens and public administrations by open sourcing its software solutions. This decision will also spur innovation, building thanks to publicly available Commission code.”

Read more about the EU’s digital strategy here.

Annual Erasmus+ grant budgets should be equally distributed, universities say

The European University Association (EUA) is raising concerns about the decision to up Erasmus+ budgets every year and is calling for even annual distribution of the seven-year budget for student mobility. 

The Erasmus+ programme has seen a steep increase in funding for the next seven years, but this year’s €705 million budget for mobility grants remains lower than the €942 million spent in 2020. In the next seven years, the annual budget will keep increasing, with €971 million foreseen to be distributed in grants in 2022.

The EUA says a more predictable budget would ease the burden of national agencies and universities that welcome students and distribute the EU funds. 

The call comes as organizations involved in the programme continue experiencing delayed payments from the EU budget, partly due to the delayed political decision on the funding and future of the €26.2 billion mobility programme.

New, data driven and user-friendly tool to support decarbonisation in the EU

The European Commission has set up the Energy and Industry Geography Lab, a user-friendly online tool that provides geospatial information for companies and energy infrastructure players.

This map-based interface enables online data management, visualisation and analysis of data related to energy and industry, helping policymakers to plan the key changes needed to decarbonise the economy. The Energy and Industry Geography Lab shows where to find clean energy, if the necessary infrastructure is in place, or whether there is land available for the installation of renewable energies. It also hosts socio-economic information, and offers forward-looking capabilities, as it includes geospatial data from scenario work by the Commission and third parties.

Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, said: “Science and technology will help us to tackle concretely the ongoing global threats and challenges, such as the green and digital transitions. For the first time, data on energy and industrial infrastructure have been brought together in a single map and for free, to better plan the decarbonisation we all need to achieve the European Green Deal.”.

Stories from 2050 – Radical, inspiring and thought-provoking narratives

Stories and narratives are a powerful tool for future’s literacy and future’s thinking. In recent years, these have been fighting for attention next to scenarios and trend research within the Foresight discipline, and there is a good reason for it. Adding up to 21 stories, the narratives in this booklet deal with the planetary emergencies, namely the existential threat of climate change and the biodiversity crisis, which are driving the European Green Deal.

The stories are built on ideas of people from all around the world, such as experts in the field or purely engaged citizens with a story to tell. These range from plausible sci-fi stories of the future to fictional fairy tales that provoke abstract thinking.

These stories are intended to stimulate thinking by providing different perspectives and layers of understanding. They are not made to give us clear and straightforward solutions, but rather take us on a journey beyond our immediate context to make decisions that foster a positive future by acting today.

Check out the booklet here.

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