Europe passes world’s first major act to regulate AI

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on Mar 13, 2024
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  • The EU approved the world's inaugural comprehensive regulatory framework for AI.
  • The EU AI Act received overwhelming support with 523 votes in favour.
  • Google and other companies are self-regulating AI in sensitive areas like election related content.

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The European Union Parliament made history on Wednesday by approving the world’s inaugural comprehensive regulatory framework for artificial intelligence (AI), marking a significant milestone in the governance of rapidly evolving tech domains.

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The EU AI Act, which classifies AI technologies based on their risk levels, received overwhelming support with 523 votes in favour, setting Europe as a pioneering force in AI regulation.

The EU AI Act

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Initiated in 2021, the EU AI Act introduces a tiered risk classification for AI technologies, ranging from “unacceptable” risks, warranting a ban, to low-risk categories, aiming to ensure safety and ethical standards without stifling innovation.

This legislation reflects Europe’s ambition to balance the need for regulation with the desire to remain competitive in the global tech landscape, amidst concerns from leading AI nations like Germany and France about the potential adverse effects of stringent controls on the region’s tech competitiveness.

Tackling tech dominance

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Amid efforts to regulate the influence of tech giants and promote a fair digital market, the EU recently implemented the Digital Markets Act, targeting anti-competitive behaviours and demanding greater openness from companies with significant market power.

This act specifically addresses the dominance of six major companies, including U.S. tech leaders Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, Microsoft, and Chinese conglomerate Bytedance, labeling them as “gatekeepers” in the digital arena.

Will the law highlight AI ethics?

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With the rapid adoption of AI technologies by major corporations and the looming threat of misuse, such as the creation of deepfakes, the EU’s regulatory push aims to safeguard against the potential for disinformation and abuse.

The regulation underscores the global urgency to address AI’s ethical implications, especially in the context of critical elections worldwide.

Companies like Google are taking proactive steps to self-regulate AI’s use in sensitive areas, including election-related content.

Implementation of the EU AI Act

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The EU AI Act is seen not as the culmination but the beginning of a new era in technology governance, emphasizing human oversight and the potential of AI to drive economic and societal advancements.

Dragos Tudorache, a key figure in the negotiation of the AI Act, highlighted the importance of translating this legislative framework into tangible, on-the-ground realities, heralding a new governance model centered around technological advancement and ethical considerations.

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