The Secretary of State for Digitization and Artificial Intelligence, Carme Artigas, will leave office this Friday. This was stated today at an event organized by the newspaper Expansion, in which she said she would maintain her new role as co-chair of a United Nations international council of experts tasked with preparing a governance mechanism for artificial intelligence. He also expressed his intention to return to private affairs, although he did not reveal his destination for the moment.
Artigas leaves his post after successfully achieving one of the objectives of the still ongoing Spanish EU presidency: reaching the political agreement that gives the green light to the long-awaited European directive on artificial intelligence. The Catalan was tasked with leading the latest round of negotiations between representatives of the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council (the member states). The meeting, known in European jargon as trilogues, ended with a text signed by the three parties after 36 hours of intense negotiations.
According to sources close to the Secretary of State, the Catalan communicated her decision to the Minister of Digital Transformation, José Luis Escriva, who had previously reaffirmed Artigas in this position. The latest Executive reform placed Escriva as direct boss of Artigas, who until then reported to the second vice-president and Minister of Economy and Digital Transition, Nadia Calviño.
Born in Vilassar de Mar (Barcelona) 55 years ago, Artigas has been part of the government structure since the arrival of President Pedro Sánchez in La Moncloa. In January 2020, she was appointed head of the first Secretary of State in the history of Spain to incorporate the term artificial intelligence (AI) into her name. Quite a declaration of intentions on the part of Sánchez, who, during these years, has shown a personal interest in this technology.
A few weeks after taking office, the onset of the pandemic meant that a task that was not initially planned in his roadmap fell on Artigas’ shoulders: coordinating efforts to develop a Spanish application of monitoring of infected people. RadarCovid ultimately ended in failure: it only reported 150,000 infections in the hardest phase of the health crisis.
During his tenure at the Secretariat, Artigas promoted the Digital Rights Charter and began implementing the Digital Spain Agenda 2026, which aims to promote digital infrastructure throughout the country, as well as skills and training for new technologies. It also channeled part of the European Next Generation funds focused on the digitalization of society.
Earlier this year, a group of artificial intelligence experts announced their departure from the AI Advisory Council, a body created by Artigas to “ensure the safe and ethical use of AI.” As reported by EL PAÍS, the trigger that caused the resignation was the signing of a collaboration agreement between the Spanish government and a research institute in the United Arab Emirates, ADIA Lab, which, in the opinion of outgoing experts, does not absolutely agree with the principles that the AI Advisory Council intends to defend. That of these three experts is not the only staff resignation that has affected Artigas. During his four years as Secretary of State, there were several departures of civil servants and freely appointed positions within his own team.
Before moving into the public sector, Artigas co-founded the advanced data analytics consultancy Synergic Partners, acquired by Telefónica in 2015. He worked at Ericsson and the Generalitat, where he led the semi-public company that manages the Catalan digital bureaucracy. His time at this agency made local media headlines when he awarded a 320,000 euro contract to a company run by Jaume Agut, Artigas’ husband and later co-founder of Synergic Partners.