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Google Launches AI Opportunity for Europe to Ensure “No-One Is Left Behind” As UK Delays On Regulation

Last Updated February 12, 2024 4:13 PM
Teuta Franjkovic
Last Updated February 12, 2024 4:13 PM

Key Takeaways

  • Google’s AI Opportunity Initiative aims to upskill Europeans and prevent job displacement due to AI advancements.
  • Building on past successes, Google expands digital training.
  • This initiative aligns with the EU’s proactive approach to AI.

Google is set to introduce  a 25 million euros ($26.9 million) fund dedicated to advancing skill training for Europeans in artificial intelligence (AI).

The AI Opportunity Initiative for Europe is designed to facilitate such training, enabling individuals to capitalize on the AI advancements.

$26.9 Million Fund to Boost AI Skills Training in Europe

Google’s initiative comes at a crucial time when Europe is on the brink of cementing itself as a leader in the economic integration of AI technologies.

According to Matt Brittin , Google EMEA President:

“We want to play our part in empowering Europe’s workforce, supporting people through change so that everyone can benefit.”

He added  that, as part of its AI Opportunity Initiative for Europe, Google is collaborating with EU governments , civil society, academics, and businesses to offer “advanced” AI training to local startups, emphasizing support for vulnerable communities.
Approximately 10 million euros is earmarked for skill development programs aimed at ensuring workers are not marginalized by technological advancements.
This move mirrors a similar effort by the Italian government  in mid-2023, which saw the allocation of significant funds towards enhancing digital skills among workers facing potential displacement due to automation and AI innovations.

Expanding Digital Training in EU with AI-Focused Initiative

Google has announced its AI-focused program that builds on the success of its 2015 “Grow with Google” initiative , which offered free digital skills training across the EU, reaching over 12 million individuals. The tech giant’s latest effort aims to further bridge the digital skills gap, introducing a new partnership with the Centre for Public Impact. This collaboration seeks to engage EU-based social enterprises and nonprofits in extending AI training to a broader audience, emphasizing inclusivity.

Adrian Brown, Executive Director at the Centre for Public Impact, highlighted  the dual-edged nature of AI’s potential: while it has the power to revolutionize various sectors, it also poses a risk of exacerbating social inequalities. This initiative represents a step towards mitigating such disparities by equipping a diverse range of individuals with the necessary AI competencies.

He said :

“This new program will help people across Europe develop their knowledge, skills and confidence around AI, ensuring that no one is left behind.”

Google Enhances AI Education and Professional Development Programs

Google is broadening the accessibility of its AI foundational course by increasing the available languages to 18, in addition to enriching its Google Career Certificates program with more resources. These enhancements aim to provide professionals with practical experience in applying AI within workplace scenarios, ensuring a wider range of individuals can benefit from advanced technological training.

This initiative arrives at a critical juncture, as local regulators advance towards the finalization of the EU AI Act. This forthcoming legislation seeks to establish comprehensive guidelines for the utilization and development of AI technologies across the European Union, reflecting a proactive approach to managing the ethical and practical implications of AI integration in various sectors.

Google also rebranded its AI chatbot Bard to Gemini, showcasing new capabilities and potential applications as it seeks to expand its AI focus.

UK Government Releases Delayed Update on AI Policy

Europe’s proactive stance, exemplified by initiatives like Google’s, underscores the EU’s commitment to inclusivity and progress, ensuring that the benefits of AI are accessible to all, aligning with the ethos of leaving “No-One Behind”.

Conversely, the UK’s cautious, measured strategy, as detailed in its March 2023 White Paper and subsequent updates, prioritizes a light-touch regulatory framework. By favoring consultation and adaptability, the UK seeks to foster innovation without the constraints of premature or heavy-handed legislation. However, this slower, more deliberate path  might risk delaying the integration of inclusive and progressive AI initiatives.

As Europe charges ahead with comprehensive measures to harness the potential of AI, the UK’s iterative, sector-by-sector approach could potentially lag in fully embracing the rapid advancements and societal benefits that proactive regulation can facilitate. This dichotomy not only reflects divergent regulatory philosophies but also highlights a broader debate on how best to navigate the complex terrain of AI innovation and governance.

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