EU Plans to Propose New Regulations on Artificial Intelligence

As the European Union readies to release new rules to govern digital platforms, Big Tech chief executives have made the trip to Brussels to add to the discussion on artificial intelligence. Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai, for example, noted during his trip to Brussels that, “while AI promises enormous benefits for Europe and the world, there are real concerns about the potential negative consequences.” With its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU has set a standard that others look to follow.

The New York Times reports that artificial intelligence is in the spotlight now because, although it is seen as “one of the world’s most transformative technologies … [it also] presents new risks to individual privacy and livelihoods — including the possibility that the tech will replace people in their jobs.”

The EU’s first draft of an AI policy, directed by European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen and coordinated by European Commission head of competition Margrethe Vestager, “will be released on Wednesday, along with broader recommendations outlining the bloc’s digital strategy for the coming years.”

It is expected to suggest a tougher scrutiny on the use of AI in such fields as healthcare and transportation. Vestager earlier “raised particular concerns about the expanding use of facial recognition technology” and more recently noted that the EU would “do [its] best to avoid unintended consequences … [although] obviously, there will be intended consequences.”

NYT notes that, “Europe’s AI debate is part of a broader move away from an American-led view of technology” marked by “little scrutiny of problems such as the spread of disinformation on social networks.” Europe, meanwhile, is taking a “more hands-on approach, setting boundaries on privacy, antitrust and harmful Internet content.”

Vestager compared it to Europe’s “more assertive stance in tech regulation to its regulations of agriculture,” whereby pesticides banned in Europe are permitted in the U.S. “It is quite the European approach to say if things are risky, then we as a society want to regulate this,” she said. PricewaterhouseCoopers reported that, since 2018, there have been 44 reports with recommendations for “ethical AI.”

Bloomberg reports that, on its agenda in addition to AI, the EU plans to address “possible legislation for gate-keeping platforms, plans to make data centers carbon-neutral, as well as incentives for businesses to share information with the aim of forming data pools that bolster innovation.” It opines that Vestager is “trying to reassure anxious Europeans that she can handle concerns Europe is becoming irrelevant while Asian and American companies dominate high-tech markets.”

After viewing a recent draft of the EU document, Bloomberg reveals, “companies could have to retrain their systems with European data sets if they can’t guarantee the facial recognition or other risky technology was developed in accordance with European values.” Vestager also stated that, “she wanted to start a debate to determine which circumstances it would be justified to deploy remote facial-recognition technology.”

Once the EU unveils its report, it will “begin a 12-week consultation, inviting the public to submit comments to their AI plans before the commission formally proposes legislation as soon as the end of the year.”