AI Policy – Austria

Austria established a Robot Council in August 2017, launched by Infrastructure Minister Jörg Leichtfried, and given one million euros as a working budget from the Ministry. The Robot Council is intended to be an advisory body that will assist the Ministry of Infrastructure with developing an AI strategy over a two year period. It is chaired by Professor Sabine Köszegi and has an eight-member team of international and Austrian experts in computer science, robot ethics, and other fields.The Council is working to identify technical, economic, and social opportunities and challenges in the areas of robotics, autonomous systems, and AI. Council members plan to identify research and business needs, legal requirements, and social and ethical values. The Robot Council reportedly had its first meeting in March 2018, resulting in a set of policy recommendations. In January 2018, the new government proposed the establishment of an Ethics Council for Digitalization, which would collaborate or merge with the Robot Council.

Prior to establishing the Robot Council, the Ministry commissioned a representative survey of 1,000 Austrian citizens, and found that around two thirds of the population want Austria to develop a strategy for handling robots and AI for the country. The survey also identified views about appropriate and inappropriate uses of robots throughout society. Minister Leichtfried has emphasized finding the right way to integrate robotics and AI into the lives of Austrians, saying,  “We decide where the journey goes. The human being must always be the center of attention.”

Austria also has the Austrian Society for Measurement, Automation, and Robotics Technology, which established the National Robotics-Technology Platform (GMAR) in 2015, supported by the Austrian Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology. GMAR aims to (1) promote networking and information exchanges among key players, (2) secure Austria’s competitiveness in these industries, (3) promote robotics, automation, and AI technology, (4) provide advice to policy makers, and (5) connect internationally relevant communities.


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