Will the EU be first to introduce AI Regulation?

EU officials have been working on ground breaking rules to govern the emerging technology of AI after they were caught off guard by its rapid rise.

Two years ago, they proposed the Western world’s first AI rules, aiming on restricting narrowly focused, risky applications. General purpose AI systems like chatbots were barely mentioned. At the time lawmakers working on the AI Act considered whether to include them but weren’t sure how, or even if it was necessary. However, the explosive arrival of ChatGPT quickly removed doubts about its inclusion.

The rapid development of AI has certainly impressed users by composing music, creating images, and writing essays. With its ability to generate human-like responses using its Large Language Model (LLM) based on scanning vast amounts of online materials, and with growing concerns emerging, European lawmakers have moved quickly in recent weeks to make additions for covering general AI systems as they put the finishing touches on the legislation.

The EU’s AI Act is likely to be the world first significant attempt at regulating AI, and as such may become the de facto global standard for AI, with companies and organizations potentially deciding that the considerable size of the bloc’s single market would make it easier to apply their rules across all their products rather than develop different products for different regions.

It wouldn’t be the first time EU rules have affected or influenced the rest of the world, as this happened after the EU tightened data privacy, and more recently mandating common phone-charging cables.

Authorities across the globe are scrambling to figure out how to control this rapidly evolving technology to ensure that it improves people’s lives without threatening their rights or safety. Regulators are concerned about new ethical and societal risks posed by ChatGPT and other general purpose AI systems, which could transform daily life, from jobs and education to copyright and privacy.

The White House recently brought in the heads of tech companies working on AI including Microsoft, Google and ChatGPT creator OpenAI to discuss the risks.

China has issued draft regulations mandating security assessments for any products using generative AI systems like ChatGPT.

The UK’s competition watchdog has opened a review of the AI market, and Italy banned ChatGPT over a privacy breach, which it has since lifted.

Under the EU’s risk-based approach, AI uses that threaten people’s safety or rights face strict controls with violations potentially resulting in fines of up to 6% of a company’s global annual revenue.

The EUs wide reaching regulations, covering any provider of AI services or products, are expected to be approved by a European Parliament committee any day now, and then head into negotiations between the 27 member countries, Parliament, and the EU’s executive Commission. Though even after getting final approval, expected in the within the next 12 months, the AI Act won’t take immediate effect. There will be a grace period for companies and organizations to figure out how to adapt to the new rules.

(Source: AP news)

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