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Beyond the horizon: A human-friendly deployment of artificial intelligence and related technologies
Horizon Europe - Cluster 2 - Destination 3: Innovative research on social and economic transformations
Estimated EU contribution per project
between € 2,000,000.00 and € 3,000,000.00
Link to the call
Link to the submission
Proposals should make contributions to develop a sound European capacity building on the future and long term human and societal implications of AI, building, as appropriate, on previous work of the HLEG-AI, ADRA, and current development of the AI Act or other relevant European and national AI initiatives.
The history of “artificial intelligence” technologies (AI) is marked by great optimism and expectation, sometimes followed by disappointment. However, we have recently seen a sustained upsurge in interest and the successful uptake and application of AI in a variety of significant areas such as drug discovery, autonomous vehicles, social media, industrial robotics, and logistics, to name a few. We have witnessed significant successes in the development and deployment of machine learning, particularly for tasks normally associated with human perception. We have also seen significant successes in symbolic and logic-driven AI for problems that require reasoning about constraints, automated reasoning, planning, etc. AI has had significant impact in the arts and humanities, and AI-based methods and tools are becoming more widely used in the cultural arena.
Nevertheless, today the collection of computer technologies commonly labelled artificial intelligence, along with related technologies for instance in the fields of data science, neuroscience and biotechnology, already show the potential to disrupt and impact the rights of individuals and the wellbeing of societal structures. For example, there have been many documented case studies where AI-based applications have exhibited undesired gender and racial bias. AI systems have been (mis-)used to micro-target and influence voters in elections as well as in the creation and dissemination of disinformation, and otherwise impact on human agency and autonomy. Many ethical issues arise in the development of AI systems, such as their use in medical devices, brain-computer interfaces, reasoning about human mental and emotion state, etc.
Concerns are often raised that AI technologies may imply major societal disruptions such as massive job displacements due to the increasing use of AI-drive automation and robotics, while research show that AI can also help filling gaps in workforce.
In 2018, the European Commission established the High Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence (HLEG-AI), which was tasked with developing a set of ethics guidelines for Europe that would help ensure that AI systems be human-centric and trustworthy. The importance of a human-centric approach to AI has been a cornerstone of EU policymaking in the field for several years and is the clearly articulated position of the EU. The European Commission published a pioneering draft AI Act in April 2021, the first legal framework on AI in Europe, which addresses the potential risks of using AI. The Horizon Europe work programme under Cluster 4 is funding related research and innovation actions under the header ‘Leadership in AI based on trust’.
The common principle across all of these EU initiatives are seven key requirements for trustworthy AI, as proposed by the HLEG-AI and adopted by the European Commission, as well as the importance of protecting the fundamental rights of individuals.
Against this backdrop, before being faced with a ‘fait-accompli’ in terms of potentially undesirable influence of AI on the European society and economy and to make sure that all the beneficial potential of AI deployment is fully realised, we should anticipate and prepare for possible and high impact scenarios.
The proposal should cover all the following aspects:
- Decisive contributions to develop a sound European capacity building on the future and long term human and societal implications of AI, building, as appropriate, on previous work of the HLEG-AI, ADRA, and current development of the AI Act or other relevant European and national AI initiatives.
- A solid scientific approach, providing an in-depth analysis of successful existing deployment of AI and the impact they have on European economy and society. Such analysis should also significantly contribute to awareness raising of such deployments, providing a reality check of capabilities/benefits, but also limitations of current AI solutions, and how the latter are currently addressed.
- Scenario based analysis of future and long term potential benefits to citizens and societies, as well as an analysis of related challenges and threats.
- Based on this, proposals for development and deployment of AI, should ensure a broad support and appropriate involvement of other relevant AI initiatives, taking into account guiding ethics principles and the current development of the AI Act.
- Proposals need to take a multi-disciplinary and cross-sectorial approach, and engage with a wide set of stakeholders, including research organisations, enterprises, citizens, policymakers, public private partnerships in particular the AI, Data and Robotics Partnership, and other relevant EU projects and initiatives around AI.
- European policy actions should be proposed in a priority order, notably in the area of research and innovation but not excluding other important policy areas, that would serve to strengthen European preparedness and resilience in the face of future developments within AI and related emerging technologies as well as to guide the development and deployment of these technologies in a desirable direction.
Proposals should build on existing knowledge, activities and networks, such as the HLEG-AI and other initiatives funded by the European Union. Funded proposals should also take into account existing EU policy in the area, such as the development of the AI Act and the Excellence and trust in artificial intelligence under A Europe fit for the digital age. Furthermore, the proposals should seek synergies with closely related actions, such as relevant R&I actions funded by Horizon Europe or Horizon 2020.
Projects should contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:
- Understanding and awareness raising about successful existing deployment of AI and the impact they have on European economy and society, providing a reality check of capabilities/benefits, but also limitations of current AI solutions, and how the latter are currently addressed.
- On the basis of lessons from successful deployment, analysis of the implementation of the ethics principles for trustworthy AI.
- Structurally enhanced capacities to foresee, evaluate and manage the future and longer term opportunities and challenges associated with artificial intelligence and related technologies.
- Well founded and prioritised recommendations for European policy on R&I and in other key areas aimed at :
- Ensuring that Europe is prepared to exploit the opportunities for the benefit of citizens and society, and at the same time face the challenges raised by potential developments and deployments of artificial intelligence and related technologies based on science and evidence as well as human rights and European values, and
- Reinforcing Europe’s capacity to guide the development and deployment of these technologies in ways aligned to human rights and European values.
Regions / countries for funding
Moldova (Moldova), Armenia (Հայաստան), Azerbaijan (Azərbaycan), Belarus (Беларусь), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina / Босна и Херцеговина), Faeroes (Føroyar / Færøerne), Georgia (საქართველო), Island (Ísland), Israel (ישראל / إِسْرَائِيل), Kosovo (Kosova/Kosovë / Косово), Montenegro (Црна Гора), Morocco (المغرب), New Zealand (Aotearoa), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Tunisia (تونس /Tūnis), Türkiye, Ukraine (Україна), United Kingdom
Education and training institution, International organization, Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) / Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Other, Private institution, incl. private company (private for profit), Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs), Research Institution incl. University, Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)
To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the following countries:
- the Member States of the European Union, including their outermost regions
- the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) linked to the Member States
- third countries associated to Horizon Europe - see list of particpating countries
Only legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes, as beneficiaries, three legal entities independent from each other and each established in a different country as follows:
- at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State; and
- at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Any legal entity, regardless of its place of establishment, including legal entities from non-associated third countries or international organisations (including international European research organisations) is eligible to participate (whether it is eligible for funding or not), provided that the conditions laid down in the Horizon Europe Regulation have been met, along with any other conditions laid down in the specific call topic.
A ‘legal entity’ means any natural or legal person created and recognised as such under national law, EU law or international law, which has legal personality and which may, acting in its own name, exercise rights and be subject to obligations, or an entity without legal personality.
- Affiliated entities — Affiliated entities (i.e. entities with a legal or capital link to a beneficiary which participate in the action with similar rights and obligations to the beneficiaries, but which do not sign the grant agreement and therefore do not become beneficiaries themselves) are allowed, if they are eligible for participation and funding.
- Associated partners — Associated partners (i.e. entities which participate in the action without signing the grant agreement, and without the right to charge costs or claim contributions) are allowed, subject to any conditions regarding associated partners set out in the specific call conditions.
- Entities without legal personality — Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guarantees to protect the EU’s financial interests equivalent to those offered by legal persons.
- EU bodies — Legal entities created under EU law including decentralised agencies may be part of the consortium, unless provided for otherwise in their basic act.
- Joint Research Centre (‘JRC’)— Where provided for in the specific call conditions, applicants may include in their proposals the possible contribution of the JRC but the JRC will not participate in the preparation and submission of the proposal. Applicants will indicate the contribution that the JRC could bring to the project based on the scope of the topic text. After the evaluation process, the JRC and the consortium selected for funding may come to an agreement on the specific terms of the participation of the JRC. If an agreement is found, the JRC may accede to the grant agreement as beneficiary requesting zero funding or participate as an associated partner, and would accede to the consortium as a member.
- Associations and interest groupings — Entities composed of members (e.g. European research infrastructure consortia (ERICs)) may participate as ‘sole beneficiaries’ or ‘beneficiaries without legal personality’. However, if the action is in practice implemented by the individual members, those members should also participate (either as beneficiaries or as affiliated entities, otherwise their costs will NOT be eligible.
Relevance for EU Macro-Region
EUSAIR - EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, EUSALP - EU Strategy for the Alpine Space, EUSBSR - EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSDR - EU Strategy for the Danube Region
UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs)
All proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funders & Tenders Portal electronic submission system (accessible via the topic page in the Search Funding & Tenders section). Paper submissions are NOT possible.
Proposals must be complete and contain all parts and mandatory annexes and supporting documents, e.g. plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results including communication activities, etc.
The application form will have two parts:
- Part A (to be filled in directly online) contains administrative information about the applicant organisations (future coordinator and beneficiaries and affiliated entities), the summarised budget for the proposal and call-specific questions;
- Part B (to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system) contains the technical description of the project.
Annexes and supporting documents will be directly available in the submission system and must be uploaded as PDF files (or other formats allowed by the system).
The limit for a full application (Part B) is 45 pages.