- Publication date
- 22 July 2020
- Joint Research Centre
- Topic area
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an extraordinary medical, economic and social emergency. To contain the spread of the virus, many countries adopted a lock down policy closing schools and business and keeping people at home for several months. This resulted in a massive surge of activity online for education, business, public administration, research, social interaction. This report considers these recent developments and identifies some early lessons with respect to the present and future development of AI and digital transformation in Europe, focusing in particular on data, as this is an area of significant shifts in attitudes and policy.
The report analyses the increasing use of AI in medicine and healthcare, the tensions in data sharing between individual rights and collective wellbeing, the search for technological solutions like contact tracing apps to help monitor the spread of the virus, and the potential concerns they raise. The forced transition to online showed the resilience of the Internet but also the disproportionate impact on already vulnerable groups like the elderly and children. The report concludes that the COVID-19 crisis has acted as a boost for AI adoption and data sharing, and created new opportunities. It has also amplified concerns for democracy and social inequality and showed Europe’s vulnerability on data and platforms, calling for action to address these crucial aspects.