Written by Suzanne Smalley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and the European Union announced an agreement on Friday to accelerate and improve the use of artificial intelligence to improve agriculture, health care, emergency response, climate forecasting and power grids.

A senior US administration official, discussing the initiative shortly before the official announcement, called it the first broad agreement on artificial intelligence between the United States and Europe. Previously, agreements on this issue were limited to certain areas, such as increased privacy, the official said.

Artificial intelligence simulations, which refer to machine learning algorithms that use data to make logical decisions, can be used to improve the speed and efficiency of government operations and services.

“The magic here is to create collaborative models (while) leaving the data where it is,” said a senior administration official. “The data from the US stays in the US and the data from Europe stays there, but we can build a model that will combine data from Europe and the US, because the more data and the more diverse the data, the better the model.”

The initiative will give governments greater access to more detailed, data-rich artificial intelligence models, leading to more effective emergency response and power grid management, among other benefits, an administration official said.

Pointing to the power grid, the official said the United States is collecting data on how electricity is used, where it’s generated and how to balance the load on the grid so that changes in weather don’t knock it out.

Many European countries have similar data points they collect relating to their own networks, the official said. Under the new partnership, all of this data will be used in a shared AI model that will deliver better outcomes for emergency managers, grid operators and others who rely on AI to improve systems.

It is currently a partnership between the White House and the European Commission, the executive body of the 27-member European Union. A senior administration official said other countries would be invited to join in the coming months.

(Reporting by Suzanne Smalley in Washington Editing by Peter Graff and Matthew Lewis)

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