Netherlands Advances Toward a Vision on Generative AI

The vision for generative AI is taking shape, aiming for broad societal support at local, national, and European levels. To gather diverse insights and opinions, various meetings are being held, addressing topics such as the impact of generative AI on healthcare and ethical considerations in its usage. In September, discussions with the healthcare sector explored AI’s opportunities and risks. The government was briefed on its impact, and the initial meeting took place. The gathered insights were also validated by a sounding board group.

Staatssecretaris Alexandra van Huffelen summarized the essence during the opening of Tilburg University’s academic year, emphasizing the need for value-driven technology. She stated, “Innovation as an aspiration, but with our fundamental rights as non-negotiable conditions.”

Sector Meetings – Healthcare: In a sector meeting focused on generative AI in healthcare, organized with the Dutch AI Coalition and the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport (VWS), 27 experts delved into the opportunities and threats of this technology in healthcare. Discussions covered prospects for scientific research, preventive medicine, improved patient communication, as well as challenges like reducing administrative burdens and waitlists.

A key consensus emerged – while AI can enhance healthcare, a doctor should never be replaced solely by technology. The principle emphasized learning by doing, continuous dialogue, investment in talent, and transparency. Protection measures, embedded in legislation, were highlighted to safeguard individuals’ interests.

Government Briefing: In addition to engaging with specialists in the healthcare sector, the government was recently briefed on generative AI. Minister Dijkgraaf acknowledged the challenges, stating, “We are driving very fast, but through the fog. That makes it difficult to look ahead.”

Staatssecretaris van Huffelen spoke about Europe’s role in regulating (generative) AI, positioning the Netherlands as a potential guide in this landscape. “In Europe, a clear need for regulation has arisen. Europe leads in this, and the Netherlands within it, to create and implement this regulation.”

Citizen Gathering in Wageningen: Around 80 citizens gathered in Wageningen’s library for an evening on generative AI. Representatives from BZK provided insights on the vision trajectory, engaging in discussions on AI’s impact on societal challenges such as climate, democracy, education, and culture. Breakout sessions explored both opportunities and concerns, including a session on ChatGPT.

Advisory Board: Insights from these meetings are being assessed by an advisory board consisting of members with diverse societal perspectives. Discussions with the advisory board covered sustainability, ethics, power dynamics, work, and learning. Striking a balance between opportunities and risks is crucial. The advisory board will reconvene in October 2023.

Monthly Updates on will provide monthly updates on the developments and outcomes of various generative AI meetings. For those eager to stay informed, participate, and voice their opinions on generative AI, attending a local citizen meeting is encouraged.