Appointed by the European Commission to the High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence (AI), Thomas Metzinger, Professor of Theoretical Philosophy at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, gave a small foretaste of what awaits European citizens with AI. As he stated: “Everyone has the urge to catch the train, but no one knows when it will leave or where it is heading.”

With AI increasingly entering important fields of daily life – with potential threats to the job market and implications for the social security system and future health – Europe’s strategic positioning vis-à-vis other big players China and the United States of America has become important.

Professor Metzinger highlighted the importance of ethics applied to AI as a new domain of research. “Ethics washing”, defined as the increase of non-binding ethical debates, was recognised as a major obstacle to concrete policy regulations.

His message was a plea for new guidelines from the High-Level Group and an authentic statement of their strengths and weaknesses. So far first results from the Group, whilst still industry-dominated, were not concrete enough, were incomplete in terms of unsolved issues and long-term vision but were still considered as the best proposal.

As a deliverable by the Group of 52 experts from academia, civil society and industry, its Ethics Guidelines will become available in the second week of April.

Thomas Metzinger