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In this Morning Brief, we open with a workshop presented by INESC ID researcher Francisco Fernandes on Bioinformatics and Data Management, a EUA Policy Input on considerations for a European Degree, a workshop on Artificial Intelligence and an opinion article written about the EU’s Artificial Intelligence law, the European Sustainable Energy Week happening later this year, 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:

BioData.PT Talks Session 3: Recent Artificial Intelligence Tools and Architectures for Structural Biology

BioData.pt Talks bring BioData.pt collaborators and guest experts together with the purpose of sharing their expertise in Bioinformatics and Data Management with the scientific community and other curious citizens.

The 3D BioTalks are online sessions organized by the newly created 3D-Bioinfo Community of BioData.pt, in which researchers in the Computational Biology and Structural Biology areas share their scientific activity. These talks are scheduled for the first Wednesday of each month.

In this third session of 3D BioTalks, Francisco Fernandes, Researcher at the Graphics & Interaction group of INESC-ID, Lisboa, presents the talk entitled “Recent Artificial Intelligence tools and architectures for Structural Biology”.

Make sure to register here.


EUA Policy Input: Considerations for a “European Degree”

Amid renewed political interest in transnational university collaboration, notably joint educational provision, the European Commission has indicated that it will test possible criteria for a European label for joint programmes via an upcoming pilot. In this policy input, EUA highlights several key principles that should be considered.

Make sure to read it here 


Putting Science into Standards

Don’t miss this workshop on data quality requirements for inclusive, non-biased and trustworthy artificial intelligence, in partnership with the European Commission, taking place online on the 8th and 9th of June. Sign up here!


The EU AI law will not be future-proof unless it regulates general purpose AI systems

In this opinion piece by Kris Shrishak, technology fellow at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and Risto Uuk, policy researcher at the Future of Life Institute for EURACTIV they claim, “You might have heard that Meta, previously known as Facebook, recently released a large language model for any researcher to experiment with. Meta admits that this system has a high propensity to generate toxic language and reinforce harmful stereotypes. And yet, in the upcoming AI Act, all of the responsibility for ensuring the safety of such systems, also known as general purpose AI systems, is placed on the users. General purpose AI systems are systems that can perform a wide range of functions. These include, but are not restricted to, image or speech recognition, audio or video generation, pattern detection, question answering, and translation. This allows the systems to be used for a variety of specialised applications such as chatbots, ad generation systems, decision assistants and spambots. In fact, these systems have so many potential uses that most have yet to be discovered, and while many of them will confer benefits to users, some will be high-risk and therefore may need to be prohibited. Some of these systems have already propagated extremist content, exhibited anti-Muslim bias, and inadvertently revealed personal data. One chatbot based on a general purpose AI system, for example, encouraged someone to commit suicide. Given that, for better or for worse, general purpose AI systems are likely to be the future of AI, we are bound to see more incidents like these. The obligations of general purpose AI system providers should primarily fall on the developers. Instead of recommending that the developers of general purpose AI systems be legally responsible for ensuring their safety, however, the article proposed by the Council assigns all responsibility to the users. For example, if a department in the Belgian government uses a general purpose AI system to provide essential public services, they alone will be responsible for the chatbot’s behaviour, even though they have almost no control over the flaws and biases it may present. This creates a number of problems. Many data governance requirements, particularly bias monitoring, detection and correction, require access to the data sets on which AI systems are trained. These data sets, however, are in the possession of the developers and not of the user, who puts the general purpose AI system “into service for an intended purpose”. For users of these systems, therefore, it simply will not be possible to fulfil these data governance requirements. Moreover, it will be more cost-effective and less burdensome for small European businesses if it is the developers of general purpose AI systems (most of whom are outside of the EU) who are required to conform to legal obligations and monitor their systems after they are put to use. Only a few companies can afford to spend billions of dollars or euros developing general purpose AI systems, as this process requires vast amounts of computation. By contrast, hundreds of companies (including many SMEs) use general purpose AI systems. Regulating specific use cases, when many of them are based on just a handful of general purpose AI systems, is not cost-effective. Developers of general purpose AI systems should be treated as providers in this legislation, while companies using these systems for specific applications should be treated as exactly that: users. The recent report from the two leading committees of the European Parliament also fails to clarify this. We recommend that the European Union explicitly assign responsibility to the developers of general purpose AI systems. All general purpose AI systems should be thoroughly assessed before being put on the market and monitored continuously after. Just a handful of general purpose AI systems will be the sources of flaws and biases in hundreds of specialised applications. This is because a single general purpose AI system, for instance for language processing like the one produced by Meta, can be used as the foundation for many other systems tailored to the customer.” 


European Sustainable Energy Week: Going green and digital for Europe’s energy transition

The European Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) brings together public authorities, private companies, projects, NGOs and consumers to promote initiatives to save energy and move towards renewables for clean, secure and efficient energies.

The 2022 edition of EUSEW will take place in a hybrid format: both participants and speakers will be able to participate online or onsite in Brussels (if the sanitary situation allows it).

Under the theme “Going green and digital for Europe’s energy transition”, the event will comprise

  • a high-level policy conference
  • the awards
  • the third European youth energy day
  • as well as opportunities for bilateral meetings, exhibition stands and other networking activities.

Links and more information will follow shortly.


European Commission reveals winners of LIFE Awards 2022

Yesterday, the LIFE Programme announced the five winners of the annual LIFE Awards at a ceremony held during EU Green Week, Europe’s largest annual environmental event. The LIFE Awards recognise the most innovative, inspirational and effective LIFE projects in three categories: nature protection, environment and climate action. The LIFE Citizen’s Prize is awarded to the public’s favourite project, and this year there was a special prize to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the LIFE Programme and Natura 2000 Award.

Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, said: “While the climate crisis progresses, we are also losing species at an alarming rate. Nature restoration is an incredibly powerful tool to tackle both the climate and the biodiversity crisis. We need to protect and restore nature, so it can protect us. My sincere congratulations to the winners and finalists of this year’s LIFE awards: you are at the forefront of this fight, proving how resilient nature is, if we just allow it to recover. Your successes are an inspiration to all and give us hope for the future.”

Click here to find the winning projects.


Interact with statistics for the European Green Deal

Would you like to learn more about how Europe is doing in terms of the European Green Deal? Access EUROSTAT’s interactive visualisation tool for statistics on reducing our climate impact, protecting our planet & health and enabling a green & just transition.

The tool presents an overview of 26 indicators for the EU, the Member States and EFTA countries. Multiple functionalities are available to tailor the interactive visualisation to your needs and interests.

Find out more here


EU countries urged to prepare for Russian gas cut: Summit draft

According to EURACTIV, “EU member states need to step up preparations for a possible major disruption of Russian gas supplies, according to the draft conclusions of an EU summit meeting scheduled for Monday and Tuesday next week (30-31 May). The draft conclusions, which are still likely to change before they are adopted, say there needs to be a coordinated European contingency plan for gas cut-offs, bilateral solidarity agreements and a quick filling of gas storage before next winter. “Preparedness [for] possible major supply disruptions and the resilience of the EU gas market should be improved, in particular through swiftly agreeing on bilateral solidarity agreements and a coordinated European contingency plan,” reads the draft summit communiqué. EU leaders are also expected to welcome the agreement found between EU negotiators on obligatory gas storage, which aims to have EU storage capacity at least 85% full by 1 November 2022. The filling of gas storage before next winter should be accelerated, according to the draft, which can still be amended by EU leaders when they meet in Brussels next week. Three EU countries have already been cut off from Russian gas supplies because they refused to pay for gas in roubles as mandated by the Kremlin. Poland and Bulgaria lost their supply in late April while Finland’s was cut on Saturday (21 May). Because of concerns about further disruption and the impact this has had on already-high energy prices, Europe is looking to diversify its gas supply beyond Russia. The draft summit conclusions emphasise the short-term need to diversify supply sources and routes as well as secure Europe’s energy supply at affordable prices. However, EU governments do not have full control over energy prices. Alternative supplies, like liquified natural gas (LNG) from the US, has historically always been more expensive than cheap pipeline gas coming from Russia. To help countries leverage their bargaining power on global LNG markets, the EU has set up a joint gas purchasing platform, which is also open for Western Balkan countries and the three associated Eastern EU partners. The draft summit statement encourages EU countries to use of this platform ahead of the next winter heating season.”

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