Council of the European Union approves Artificial intelligence (AI) Act

EU Council

The Council of the European Union recently issued a press release about their new Artificial Intelligence Act. This is the World’s first major law for artificial intelligence that will no doubt have far-reaching effects in the coming years. Other institutions around the world are now also looking to introduce curbs for this rapidly evolving technology.

The EU Council said it had approved the AI Act as a ground-breaking piece of regulatory law that sets comprehensive rules surrounding artificial intelligence technology.

“The adoption of the AI act is a significant milestone for the European Union,” Mathieu Michel, Belgium’s secretary of state for digitization said in a statement.

“With the AI act, Europe emphasizes the importance of trust, transparency and accountability when dealing with new technologies while at the same time ensuring this fast-changing technology can flourish and boost European innovation,” he added.

The AI Act applies a risk-based approach to artificial intelligence, meaning that different applications of the technology are treated differently, depending on the perceived threats they pose to society.

The law prohibits applications of AI that are considered “unacceptable” in terms of their risk level. Such applications feature so-called “social scoring” systems that rank citizens based on aggregation and analysis of their data, predictive policing and emotional recognition in the workplace and schools.

High-risk AI systems cover autonomous vehicles or medical devices, which are evaluated on the risks they pose to the health, safety, and fundamental rights of citizens. They also include applications of AI in financial services and education, where there is a risk of bias embedded in AI algorithms.

The EU Commission will have the power to fine companies that breach the AI Act as much 35 million euros ($38 million) or 7% of their annual global revenues, whichever is higher.

The law imposes tough restrictions on generative AI systems, referred to by the EU as “general-purpose” AI. These include requirements to respect EU copyright law, transparency disclosures on how the models are trained, routine testing and adequate cybersecurity protections.

After being signed by the presidents of the European Parliament and of the Council, the legislative act will be published in the EU’s Official Journal in the coming days and enter into force twenty days after this publication. The new regulation will apply two years after its entry into force, with some exceptions for specific provisions.

Now an agreement has been reached on the AI Act, the rulebook is about to become a reality. Attention will now turn to the effective implementation and enforcement of the AI Act. Given the speed at which this technology is evolving how the EU, and other jurisdictions, regulate AI will be a topic to continue to monitor closely.


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