The AI Act: A New Dawn for Artificial Intelligence Regulations in the European Union

The AI Act: A New Dawn for Artificial Intelligence Regulations in the European Union
Photo by Guillaume Périgois / Unsplash

In a rapidly evolving world of artificial intelligence (AI), global authorities are striving to establish regulatory frameworks. The European Union (EU) has recently hit a significant milestone in its ongoing efforts to devise AI guardrails, as a European Parliament committee voted to bolster their proposed legislation, the Artificial Intelligence Act.

The Act, initially proposed in 2021, will oversee any product or service using AI. It will categorize AI systems into four risk levels, from minimal to unacceptable, with stringent requirements set for riskier applications. The key objective is to mitigate potential AI threats to health, safety, and fundamental rights and values.

Certain AI applications, like social scoring systems or exploitative technologies, are strictly forbidden. Lawmakers have augmented the Act by prohibiting predictive policing tools and limiting remote facial recognition, except for certain law enforcement exceptions.

The regulations also encompass high-risk AI applications like those used in employment and education. These applications must be transparent and implement risk assessment and mitigation measures. The EU asserts most AI systems fall into the low- or no-risk category.

Interestingly, the Act has recently extended its scope to cover general-purpose AI like ChatGPT, requiring them to adhere to some high-risk system requirements. One notable inclusion is the necessity to document any copyrighted material used in AI training, allowing content creators to understand if their work has been utilized to train algorithms.

Despite the EU not being a significant player in cutting-edge AI development, its regulatory frameworks often set global trends. By defining common AI rules, the EU aims to foster market growth by promoting user confidence in AI.

Non-compliance with the Act could result in hefty fines, up to 30 million euros or 6% of a company's annual global revenue. However, the legislation might not come into full effect for several years. It now moves into a negotiation phase involving the EU's 27 member states, with final approval expected by late 2023 or early 2024.