Over a third of EU companies adopt AI, and other digital technology stories you need to know

AI icon.
This rise has been fuelled by a surge in the use of generative AI.
Image: Unsplash/Igor Omilaev
  • This round-up brings you key digital technology stories from the past fortnight.
  • Top headlines: Over a third of EU businesses adopt AI; Meta platforms to label fake AI images; Microsoft announces plans to provide AI training to 2 million people in India.

1. More than a third of EU businesses have adopted AI

More than one in three European firms adopted artificial intelligence (AI) in 2023, a new report commissioned by Amazon Web Services (AWS) has revealed.

Fuelled by a surge in the use of generative AI, the increase in uptake brings the continent closer to the 2030 Digital Decade vision presented by the European Commission in 2021. The policy programme set out plans to transform the region, to help 80% of the population secure basic digital skills, 5G connectivity everywhere and 75% of EU companies using cloud services.

"Last year was pivotal; from Malmo to Milan, the accessibility of generative AI created an appetite for experimentation among consumers and businesses," Tanuja Randery, Managing Director at AWS, told Reuters.

"The accelerated uptake of AI last year has helped put Europe on track to meet its Digital Decade goals.”

A graphic showing the impact of AI on EU businesses.
AI is having a significant impact on EU businesses.
Image: Amazon

The news comes as EU countries endorsed a political deal that aims to set a global standard for AI governance, Reuters reports.

If adopted, the rules would cover the use of AI and AI models across a wide range of industries.

Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR)

How is the World Economic Forum creating guardrails for Artificial Intelligence?

In response to the uncertainties surrounding generative AI and the need for robust AI governance frameworks to ensure responsible and beneficial outcomes for all, the Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) has launched the AI Governance Alliance.

The Alliance will unite industry leaders, governments, academic institutions, and civil society organizations to champion responsible global design and release of transparent and inclusive AI systems.

2. Fake AI images to be labelled by Facebook and Instagram

While the company already labels AI images generated by its own systems, the new technology – for deployment on Facebook, Instagram and Threads – will identify images created by other companies.

Risk experts believe misinformation and disinformation is the top risk of the next two years.
Risk experts believe misinformation and disinformation is the top risk of the next two years.
Image: World Economic Forum

“We’re taking this approach through the next year, during which a number of important elections are taking place around the world,” said Nick Clegg, President, Global Affairs.

“During this time, we expect to learn much more about how people are creating and sharing AI content, what sort of transparency people find most valuable, and how these technologies evolve. What we learn will inform industry best practices and our own approach going forward.”

However, experts have warned that such tools are easily evadable. Speaking to the BBC, Professor Soheil Feizi, director of the Reliable AI Lab at the University of Maryland said: "They may be able to train their detector to be able to flag some images specifically generated by some specific models. But those detectors can be easily evaded by some lightweight processing on top of the images, and they also can have a high rate of false positives.”

3. News in brief: Digital technology stories from around the world

Microsoft has revealed plans to provide AI skilling opportunities to 2 million people in India by 2025. Speaking at a conference in Mumbai, CEO Satya Nadella also called for India and the United States to co-operate on AI norms and regulations. "I hope consensus emerges and that is what really helps, in some sense, [with] the diffusion of this technology," he said when discussing global attempts to draw up rules and regulate AI.

Countries and tech organizations have signed a joint statement recognizing the importance of taking more action against the malicious use of cyber-spying tools. A group of 35 countries – led by the UK, France and the US – raised concerns over the growing spyware market and its impact on national security and human rights.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has announced it will more closely track energy consumption by cryptocurrency mining businesses. These companies will be required to respond to a survey detailing their energy use as the EIA looks to better understand how energy demand is changing in cryptocurrency mining, and where operations are most prevalent.

Coursera – the US education platform – saw a new user sign up for its AI courses every minute on average in 2023. Its CEO, Jeff Maggioncalda, said this was a clear sign of people upskilling to tap into the potential of AI: "I'd say the real hotspot is generative AI because it affects so many people," he told Reuters in an interview at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos.

SAP is restructuring 8,000 jobs to focus on AI-driven business areas, the company announced. It will spend €2 billion ($2.2 billion) to retrain employees or replace them through voluntary redundancy programmes.

4. More on digital technology on Agenda

AI has the potential to provide vital data for climate action and sustainable growth through Earth Observation. This Agenda article explores how, when coupled with new satellites and advanced senators, AI can answer complex questions, provide intuitive user interfaces for non-expert users and drive business model innovation.

GovTech could rebuild trust between citizens and the state – provided solutions are effective, people-focused and tackle the digital divide. With government technology set to be one of the biggest software markets in the world, the Forum's Stephan Mergenthaler and Sebastian Buckup explore its potential to tackle some of the most complex societal challenges.

How can we help young people navigate both the opportunities and risks of AI and digital technology? As education systems play catch up with technology, this challenge was under discussion at the World Economic Forum’s Annual meeting in Davos. Discover some of the key takeaways here.

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