A new landmark law setting rules for artificial intelligence technology has been passed by the European Parliament, potentially setting the groundwork for similar laws to be passed throughout the world.
The new law, called the EU AI Act, was passed by the European Parliament recently, making it the first formal set of regulations for the AI industry in the West.
AI has exploded in popularity and usage in recent years. And while the technology is providing many use cases and plenty of benefits not just to companies but to people’s everyday lives, there are many concerns about the technology and the damage it could potentially do.
One of the biggest areas of concern in the AI industry is generative AI, a type of technology that can generate entirely new content just from prompts that users set up. This has led to people creating music lyrics, entire essays and computer code through AI programs such as ChatGPT, among others.
It’s quite an impressive piece of technology, for sure, but plenty of people are concerned about the potential for bias and misinformation, as well as how many jobs could be replaced by the technology.
The rules established under the EU AI Act, though, are the first set of comprehensive regulations for the AI industry. The Act was adopted by a vote of 499-28, with 93 abstentions.
This is only the first step in the act becoming law, though it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
One of the regulations under the Act is that companies that develop generative AI programs, such as ChatGPT, will have to submit whatever they create to be reviewed before they can be released directly to consumers and other businesses.
Other bans are put in place for the very controversial “social scoring” systems as well biometric identification systems that work in real-time. In fact, all biometric surveillance in public settings will be banned under this act.
Workday’s senior director of public policy, Jens-Henrick Jeppesen, said in response to the passage that the act will aim to “build safeguards on the development and use of these technologies to ensure we have an innovation-friendly environment for these technologies such that society can benefit from them. Those are the right goals in my view.”
Now that the European Parliament has passed the act, the next step is for negotiations to take place at the EU institutions, including the 27 member states as well as the executive body of the EU.
While those negotiations are likely to press forward in the near future, private AI industry leaders are hoping that the government will involve them in the process.
Thomas Dohmke, the CEO of Github, said he hoped that the regulators would listen to what the private sector had to say about AI rules. He said:
“We encourage the European Union and the U.S. government to move really fast and listen to those that built the technology, not only in the commercial business, but also in universities, in the open-source communities.”