Moti­on Ben­da­han (23.3849): Crea­te a com­pe­tence cen­ter or com­pe­tence net­work for arti­fi­ci­al intel­li­gence in Switzerland

Moti­on Ben­da­han (23.3849): Crea­te a com­pe­tence cen­ter or com­pe­tence net­work for arti­fi­ci­al intel­li­gence in Switzerland

Sub­mit­ted text

The Fede­ral Coun­cil is ins­truc­ted, Mea­su­res for the crea­ti­on of a com­pe­tence cen­ter for new tech­no­lo­gies and in par­ti­cu­lar for arti­fi­ci­al intel­li­gence (AI) in Switz­er­land. This cen­ter should con­tri­bu­te in par­ti­cu­lar to achie­ving the fol­lo­wing goals:

  • Switz­er­land has a com­pe­tence cen­ter that can advi­se the aut­ho­ri­ties and pos­si­bly the pri­va­te sector;
  • Switz­er­land has the com­pu­ting power and infras­truc­tu­re for the deve­lo­p­ment, test­ing and rese­arch of AI;
  • Switz­er­land has tools and can pro­vi­de tools that make it pos­si­ble to deal with arti­fi­ci­al intel­li­gence, e.g. by reco­gnizing risks, pre­ven­ting them or hel­ping to bet­ter under­stand them;
  • Switz­er­land is con­stant­ly moni­to­ring deve­lo­p­ments to ensu­re that it does not react too late in terms of regu­la­ti­on and development;
  • AI is pro­mo­ted in the inte­rests of the com­mon good and the popu­la­ti­on and the­se tech­no­lo­gies are pre­ven­ted from deve­lo­ping to the detri­ment of the vast majo­ri­ty of the population.

The crea­ti­on of such a cen­ter can take place in various ways, e.g. by:

  • the uni­ver­si­ties’ bud­gets are lin­ked to infla­ti­on, allo­wing them to pro­vi­de resour­ces for the deve­lo­p­ment of or con­tri­bu­ti­on to such a center;
  • play­ing a faci­li­ta­ting role in the deve­lo­p­ment of such a cen­ter by pro­vi­ding resour­ces and crea­ting public ser­vice con­tracts for this center;
  • a public man­da­te is defi­ned and put out to ten­der that ensu­res that AI can deve­lop in Switz­er­land, but bene­fits ever­yo­ne and is as trans­pa­rent as possible;
  • Fun­ding or co-fun­ding the deve­lo­p­ment of com­pu­ting power that can be made available; this aspect is inde­ed fun­da­men­tal to rese­arch, test­ing and deployment in the field of AI;
  • trai­ning cour­ses, thanks to which Switz­er­land can posi­ti­on its­elf as a lea­der in this field.


Tech­no­lo­gies are deve­lo­ping very quick­ly, which is not always com­pa­ti­ble with a cer­tain iner­tia in the poli­ti­cal system. This can lead to the legal system no lon­ger kee­ping pace with deve­lo­p­ments. Switz­er­land should play a pio­nee­ring role in new tech­no­lo­gies, but always keep the inte­rests of socie­ty at heart. Switz­er­land should the­r­e­fo­re be a coun­try whe­re the deve­lo­p­ment of tech­no­lo­gies is encou­ra­ged while ensu­ring that the­se tech­no­lo­gies bene­fit huma­ni­ty, rather than ser­ving the inte­rests of a few indi­vi­du­als or com­pa­nies and mas­si­ve­ly wea­k­e­ning others.

A com­pe­tence cen­ter would enable Switz­er­land to play a pio­nee­ring role and con­stant­ly moni­tor the deve­lo­p­ment of tech­no­lo­gies, par­ti­cu­lar­ly in the field of AI. Such a cen­ter could help poli­cy­ma­kers to react quick­ly and would help to ensu­re that AI tech­no­lo­gies are trans­pa­rent. This could limit risks and pro­cu­re or deve­lop tools that increa­se the value of the­se tech­no­lo­gies for the population.

The skills are alre­a­dy very much in place in Switz­er­land, but the­re is a lack of poli­ti­cal impe­tus and resour­ces. If uni­ver­si­ties and other stake­hol­ders were encou­ra­ged to deve­lop such a cen­ter, syn­er­gies with the pri­va­te sec­tor could be crea­ted that would posi­ti­on our coun­try as a lea­der in the field of AI for the com­mon good and crea­te an envi­ron­ment con­du­ci­ve to business.

Switz­er­land has a serious lack of resour­ces, i.e. available digi­tal infras­truc­tures, in par­ti­cu­lar available com­pu­ting power, to enable insti­tu­ti­ons and part­ners to rese­arch, deve­lop, test and learn in the field of AI. It would be very important to sub­stan­ti­al­ly increa­se the­se capa­ci­ties so as not to be too depen­dent on other countries.

Opi­ni­on of the Fede­ral Coun­cil of 30.8.2023

AI rai­ses que­sti­ons in the most diver­se are­as of our socie­ty and eco­no­my, wher­eby the effects of AI are high­ly con­text-depen­dent. Against this back­drop, a sin­gle com­pe­tence cen­ter respon­si­ble for all tech­ni­cal, legal and social aspects of AI at sec­to­ral and hori­zon­tal level appears neither expe­di­ent nor fea­si­ble. The fede­ral govern­ment has alre­a­dy crea­ted seve­ral bodies to exch­an­ge infor­ma­ti­on on various aspects of AI. Sin­ce 2019, the Tri­par­ti­te Plat­form coor­di­na­ted by OFCOM has been used to dis­cuss poli­ti­cal, social and eco­no­mic issues rela­ting to AI with over 300 experts from the admi­ni­stra­ti­on (Con­fe­de­ra­ti­on and can­tons), busi­ness, civil socie­ty and aca­de­mia. The Pla­te­for­me Tri­par­ti­te is open to all inte­re­sted par­ties and has an admi­ni­stra­ti­ve com­mit­tee to coor­di­na­te Swiss posi­ti­ons on AI. For seve­ral years, AI has also been a prio­ri­ty topic at the Swiss Inter­net Gover­nan­ce Forum, which is under the patro­na­ge of OFCOM.

Sin­ce 2021, the Com­pe­tence Net­work AI (CNAI) is respon­si­ble for tech­ni­cal aspects of the spe­ci­fic use of AI in the Fede­ral Admi­ni­stra­ti­on. The CNAI, which is affi­lia­ted to the Fede­ral Sta­tis­ti­cal Office (FSO), main­ta­ins a data­ba­se of AI pro­jects in the Con­fe­de­ra­ti­on, coor­di­na­tes AI-rela­ted ter­mi­no­lo­gy and net­works tech­ni­cal experts in the “Com­mu­ni­ty of Exper­ti­se” and “Com­mu­ni­ty of Prac­ti­ce”. A “legal hub” is curr­ent­ly being crea­ted to sup­port the CNAI and the Pla­te­for­me Tri­par­ti­te manage­ment com­mit­tee in legal mat­ters. Sin­ce 2021, the­re has been an “Algo­rith­ms Node” under the lea­der­ship of the FSO’s Data Sci­ence Com­pe­tence Cen­ter (DSCC). The Fede­ral Coun­cil has ins­truc­ted the DHA to eva­lua­te the CNAI by the first quar­ter of 2024 and, if neces­sa­ry, to pro­po­se fur­ther deve­lo­p­ments. In addi­ti­on, the DSCC pro­vi­des the public sec­tor with its exper­ti­se in the spe­ci­fic appli­ca­ti­on of data sci­ence and AI. In addi­ti­on, OFCOM, in con­sul­ta­ti­on with the Manage­ment Com­mit­tee of the Pla­te­for­me Tri­par­ti­te, con­ducts a bien­ni­al moni­to­ring of the use and time­liness of the 2020 AI gui­de­lines for the Con­fe­de­ra­ti­on and coll­ects the plan­ned mea­su­res at sec­to­ral level. Final­ly, the DDPS tech­no­lo­gy cen­ter, arma­su­i­s­se Sci­ence and Tech­no­lo­gy, con­ducts rese­arch into AI appli­ca­ti­ons in the secu­ri­ty sector.

Also on various uni­ver­si­ties com­pe­tence cen­ters for AI have been crea­ted, which can be used for the con­cerns men­tio­ned in the moti­on. This also applies to com­pu­ting power and infras­truc­tures. The new Swiss super­com­pu­ter “alps”, which is curr­ent­ly being pro­cu­red by ETH Zurich to replace the exi­sting “Piz Daint” com­pu­ter, will once again be one of the most powerful super­com­pu­ters in the world. The super­com­pu­ter should be rea­dy for use from Q1/2024.

The Fede­ral Coun­cil is con­vin­ced that deal­ing with AI (and other digi­ta­lizati­on issues) will con­ti­n­ue to gain in importance. Whe­ther this will requi­re an adap­t­ati­on or streng­thening of the exi­sting insti­tu­tio­nal struc­tures in the field of AI in the future also depends hea­vi­ly on regu­la­to­ry deve­lo­p­ments at inter­na­tio­nal level. In addi­ti­on to the EU’s nego­tia­ti­ons on the “AI Act”, the nego­tia­ti­ons in the Coun­cil of Euro­pe under the Swiss Pre­si­den­cy for a bin­ding inter­na­tio­nal agree­ment on AI, human rights, demo­cra­cy and the rule of law are par­ti­cu­lar­ly rele­vant. In its respon­se to the Postu­la­te Dobler (23.3201) has alre­a­dy been announ­ced by the Fede­ral Coun­cil, by the end of 2024, a poli­ti­cal assess­ment with pos­si­ble opti­ons for sec­to­ral and, whe­re neces­sa­ry, hori­zon­tal regu­la­to­ry mea­su­res in the area of AI. The ana­ly­ses for this will be car­ri­ed out within the frame­work of exi­sting bodies (in par­ti­cu­lar the IC EUDP for the impact of the AI Act on Switz­er­land, the Tri­par­ti­te Plat­form and its manage­ment com­mit­tee for the ana­ly­sis of the impli­ca­ti­ons of the Coun­cil of Euro­pe Agree­ment, the moni­to­ring of the gui­de­lines and the exch­an­ge on the need for sec­to­ral action, as well as the CNAI) and with the invol­vement of all fede­ral agen­ci­es con­cer­ned. The ana­ly­sis should also exami­ne the que­sti­on of whe­ther the exi­sting insti­tu­tio­nal struc­tures in the area of AI should be adapt­ed or streng­the­ned (e.g. crea­ti­on of an over­ar­ching coor­di­na­ti­on office).




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