EU announces initiative to fast-track supercomputer access for AI startups


European Union President Ursula von der Leyen announced a new initiative to give artificial intelligence (AI) startups expedited access to European supercomputers.

The announcement came during the president’s 2023 EU State of the Union address on Sept. 13.

In introducing the topic of AI, von der Leyen invoked an open letter sent by members of the global AI community calling for increased regulatory scrutiny of the potential for “extinction from AI.”

Per von der Leyen’s speech:

“AI is a general technology that is accessible, powerful and adaptable for a vast range of uses — both civilian and military. And it is moving faster than even its developers anticipated. So we have a narrowing window of opportunity to guide this technology responsibly.”

The president called for the assemblage of a “new global framework for AI, built on three pillars: guardrails, governance and guiding innovation.”

In describing the necessary guardrails, the president invoked the EU’s “AI Act,” calling it “a blueprint for the whole world.” For the “governance” pillar, von der Leyen beseeched the global community to form a governance council similar to the International Panel on Climate Change.

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Lastly, in support of the tenant of “guiding innovation,” President von der Leyen announced an EU-wide initiative to accelerate access to Europe’s supercomputers for artificial intelligence startups wishing to train models and conduct research.

“Europe has now become a leader in supercomputing – with 3 of the 5 most powerful supercomputers in the world,” the president said, adding, “We need to capitalise on this.”

President von der Leyen also lauded U.S. technology companies that have chosen to voluntarily adopt AI standards and ethics and praised EU companies that have done the same. “Now,” the president added, “we should bring all of this work together towards minimum global standards for safe and ethical use of AI.”

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