Health, a priority field for the application of artificial intelligence

Health, a priority field for the application of artificial intelligence

It has evidently become the present and the future of technology, but what is artificial intelligence (AI)? According to the European Parliament, it is the ability of a machine to display the same capabilities as humans, such as learning, reasoning, creativity and the ability to plan. Systems that incorporate artificial intelligence are therefore able to adapt their behaviour to their environment and work autonomously.

Historically, the European Union (EU) has invested half as much in AI as Asia and approximately a third as much as North America; however, in recent years, the EU, being aware of AI’s immense potential, has increased its budget to change this trend.

For this reason, the EU aims to boost its leadership in this sector by drawing on several of its strengths: its excellent research centres, its good global positioning in robotics and the strength of industrial and service sectors, such as healthcare, the automotive and agri-food sectors. However, it also faces considerable challenges, such as the lack of citizens’ confidence in artificial intelligence or the lack of skills and capacities to understand, develop and integrate AI.

For this reason, in 2018, the European Commission launched the Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence, with the aim of creating an ethical and legal framework, fostering cooperation between artificial and human intelligence and boosting capacity building in this sector. In 2021, this action was consolidated with the Proposal for a Regulation on the use of artificial intelligence in Europe, the first of its kind.

Types of artificial intelligence projects

Some of the institutions that offer funding calls to promote AI are the European Innovation Council and the European Research Council. The most important programmes channelling these grants are Digital Europe and Horizon Europe. So far, according to Kaila’s research, Spain, Italy and Germany are the countries that have approved the most projects related to artificial intelligence.

At Kaila, we have analysed the European Commission’s projects linked to AI since 2021, and we have detected the following types of projects:

– Those aimed at implementing artificial intelligence solutions, focused on having a positive impact on relevant sectors and the economy and contributing to societal challenges.

– Projects aimed at supporting Europe’s leadership in artificial intelligence.

– Projects that seek to improve communication with citizens and maintain proper ethics in the digital industry, re-centralising the role of artificial intelligence in society and fostering appropriate collaboration.

– Projects that provide expert training in artificial intelligence and that help attract and retain skilled talent.

Leading artificial intelligence projects

Through the analysis of these AI initiatives, which have a budget of more than 2.5 million euros, certain significant trends can be discerned:

– Out of a total of €839,419,432.39 earmarked by the European Commission for research projects, that in one way or another, integrate artificial intelligence as a key tool for their development, no less than 47.40% has been allocated to projects in the healthcare sector that focus their development on the use of the most advanced digital technologies, including artificial intelligence.

– In second place, are projects that seek to advanced AI technologies, which, with 103.8 million euros, receive 12.37% of the budget.

– The security sector receives 6.05% of the EC’s funding for research projects (almost €840 million), followed by the electronics sector, with 5% and the environment, with 4.72%.

– At the end of the list are sectors such as the music industry, archaeology and urban development, with less than 0.5% of the budget.

Applications of AI in the healthcare sector

This kind of intelligence is key to processing and evaluating large amounts of data, and the healthcare sector has taken note of this. Below are some of the applications of AI in healthcare:

– Streamlining decision-making processes.

– Applying personalised precision medicines and therapies to improve the quality of life and life expectancy of patients and relieving pressure on the healthcare system.

– Accelerating the development and discovery of new medicines and vaccines.

Detecting epidemics in real time.

Improving the anticipation and prediction of risks and complications associated with different pathologies, as well as the correct diagnosis and stratification of patients, which would have a drastic impact on understanding diseases, improve the patients’ quality of life and would reduce the economic pressure on European healthcare systems.

Now, the key is to strike a balance between innovation, legal certainty and the protection of human rights.  And so far, the European Union is steadily moving towards achieving this.