12 December 2023

EU agrees on rules for AI

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The European Union has reached a provisional agreement on the regulation of artificial intelligence (AI). The EU is the first country/region in the world to regulate the use of AI. The legislation, the AI Act, must protect fundamental rights, democracy, the rule of law and the environment against certain AI applications.
AI tools can be used to generate texts, images and voices. That is why there are broad concerns about privacy, job security and copyright, among other things. Artificial intelligence can also be applied for facial recognition, for example.

Risk classification

The AI Act divides systems into risk classes: the higher the risk, the stricter the requirements. A number of far-reaching AI applications, such as building databases with (security) images for facial recognition, are also prohibited. This also applies to systems that give points or punish for certain behavior.
Furthermore, it will be prohibited for employers or educational institutions to recognize emotions using AI. In some cases, there are exceptions to the rules for police services, for example in the search for victims or perpetrators of serious crimes.
Breaking the rules can lead to fines ranging from 35 million euros to a percentage of a company's turnover.

Long negotiations

The AI Act has been the subject of very intensive negotiations in recent days. The three largest EU countries, Germany, France and Italy, were afraid that too strict rules would also affect European parties, which they wanted to prevent. The legislation is the first of its kind in the world, but it will not come into force until 2025 at the earliest, as the European Parliament still has to vote on the law.
The arrival of AI tools such as ChatGPT has increased the urgency of legislation. Such tools must now assess and address the risks of their technology, and report on the data they used to train the tool and their energy consumption.
After Meta's Threads platform was previously banned in the EU and only allowed after adjustment, this is yet another sign that there is a growing awareness that the power of Big Tech must be curbed. Adapting Threads to European requirements indicates that Big Tech finds the European market interesting enough to reluctantly comply.

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