The European Parliament has made a noteworthy stride in formulating a regulatory framework to govern the use of artificial intelligence (AI) within Europe. The draft AI Act has garnered favorable votes from key committees in the Parliament, delineating restrictions on AI deployment while still fostering innovation. This response comes in light of the rapid advancement of ChatGPT and similar generative AI systems, which have demonstrated the benefits and opportunities afforded by advanced technology, but have also raised concerns about the potential dangers stemming from the dissemination of fabricated content.
The inception of the AI Act dates back to 2021, with the objective of regulating any product or service that employs an AI system. Classifying AI into four tiers based on risk, the Act imposes more stringent rules and demands greater transparency and accuracy for higher-risk applications. The aim is to ensure responsible development and utilization of AI, steering clear of a society controlled by AI.
An integral facet of the AI Act is its commitment to striking a balance between safeguarding fundamental rights and providing legal certainty for businesses while fostering innovation in Europe. Policymakers acknowledge the dual potential of AI technology for positive and negative purposes, and they perceive the associated risks as being too significant. Consequently, the AI Act aims to prevent the exploitation of AI to create a surveillance state or perpetuate discrimination against specific groups.
The AI Act will impose a ban on the use of remote facial recognition technology, with limited exceptions for countering and preventing specific terrorist threats. This significant measure arises from concerns surrounding the potential misuse of facial recognition technology in building a surveillance society. Additionally, the Act will prohibit the use of policing tools aimed at pre-determining crime occurrences and perpetrators, as lawmakers believe such tools are inherently discriminatory and violate human rights.
Another noteworthy inclusion in the AI Act is the classification of generative AI systems, including ChatGPT, as high-risk systems. Consequently, these systems will be subject to the same level of scrutiny and regulation as other high-risk applications like self-driving cars and medical devices. The decision to include generative AI within the purview of the AI Act reflects policymakers’ apprehensions regarding the potential misuse of this technology in generating harmful fabricated content.
The AI Act represents a significant stride forward in the regulation of AI within Europe. However, it is important to note that the parliamentary committees have reached an agreement that represents merely the initial step in a lengthy and bureaucratic process, which could span several years before the European Union’s 27 member states adopt it as law. Moreover, implementing the AI Act is expected to face significant challenges, particularly in terms of enforcing regulations and overseeing AI systems.