No current technology has more potential to boost the EU’s competitiveness than AI. In a new report commissioned by Google and released today, Public First found generative AI could increase the size of the EU economy by 1.2 trillion Euros, and save the average worker over 70 hours a year — the equivalent to about two weeks of work. By helping everyone across the EU focus on more productive and creative tasks, AI can accelerate economic growth and in turn make progress on social challenges.
Yet for AI to benefit everyone across the EU, we must work together.
Europeans have achieved a high quality of life, marked by shorter working hours, paid vacations, strong labor laws, universal healthcare and generous social welfare states. Technology has played its part in this, and will continue. Europe’s digital decade is in full force.
Despite that, our way of life has changed. Increasingly, people are feeling the weight of social, political and growing economic challenges. We’re not meeting enough of the commitments needed to beat the climate crisis, we are all witnesses of a growing political polarization, the fight against high inflation is not done, energy dependence is yet to be resolved, and of course the horrific Russian war on Ukraine is ongoing.
These factors are creating significant social and economic challenges. But AI can be a driving force in helping the EU to address some of them.
Accelerating the digital transition with AI
While AI can be a transformative opportunity for Europe’s economy, making sure that the right tools are available to businesses big and small will be crucial to ensure that we maximize its opportunities.
Public First’s research shows 74% of workers across the EU think generative AI tools will help them be more productive, while 79% of European businesses said that they are likely to use the freed up time for workers to give them other more valuable tasks.
One of the ways Google can help is by providing useful tools. The report estimates that Google’s products, platforms and tools will help provide an estimated €179 billion in economic activity in 2023 across the European Union, allowing businesses to employ over three million people.
And we’re already working to bring AI to businesses big and small. Working with Google Cloud, Lufthansa has created a tool that uses AI to support human operations controllers in their decision making, pulling real-time information from around the world. Meanwhile, our Google for Startups: AI First Accelerator is a 10-week equity-free program for Seed to Series A startups based in Europe and Israel, helping startups working on innovative AI-enabled technology to scale their business towards success.
Supporting others to capitalize on AI
With every digital transition, we’ve seen that new skills are just as vital as access to smart tools. Since 2015, we’ve trained over 12 million people across Europe in digital skills, working in collaboration with governments and local communities through programs such as our Google Career Certificates.
We’re now building on our long-established digital skills training to ensure that the opportunities presented by AI can be open to all. Google.org has introduced a new Social Innovation Fund on AI that will provide €10 million in funding, as well as mentoring and support, to help entrepreneurs from underserved backgrounds develop transformative AI solutions and apply them to the issues they’re tackling on a daily basis.
Those skills are needed as we prepare workforces for the AI-driven job transition — but they also add a €580 billion boost to the EU economy, according to Public First.
Working together for progress
Innovation has always been a team game, and AI will be no exception. Over the years, we’ve built communities of researchers and academics dedicated to creating standards and guidance for responsible AI development. The same need for collective effort applies in the next phase of AI’s evolution, and we’re committed to working in partnership with others to get this right.
Developing good policy and responsible AI will need close coordination between governments, the private sector, academia and civil society. We saw from the creation of the internet how important these discussions are. We all benefit from shared standards, protocols and institutions of governance.
This is a vital moment of acceleration for us to work together. AI has the potential to help us build a better, fairer, healthier society — and to support competitiveness and inclusive growth. It’s up to all of us to make that happen: working boldly, responsibly and together.