Europe reached a significant milestone as a provisional deal on comprehensive rules governing the use of artificial intelligence (AI) was struck on Friday by the European Union (EU). This monumental accord encompasses crucial aspects, from governments’ utilization of AI in biometric surveillance to the regulation of AI systems, mirroring the likes of ChatGPT.
The EU has surged ahead as a frontrunner, poised to be the first major global entity to enact such far-reaching laws pertaining to AI. The political agreement follows nearly 15 hours of negotiations among EU countries and members of the European Parliament, building upon an exhaustive 24-hour debate from the preceding day, Reuters news report said.
While this provisional deal lays the foundation, the impending days will witness the fine-tuning of details that could potentially shape the ultimate legislation.
The agreement incorporates pivotal safeguards for general-purpose AI, imposes restrictions on law enforcement’s usage of biometric identification systems, prohibits social scoring, and forbids the utilization of AI to exploit user vulnerabilities or manipulate them.
Consumers are empowered with the right to launch complaints and receive comprehensive explanations, while violators face substantial fines ranging from 7.5 million euros or 1.5 percent of turnover to 35 million euros or 7 percent of global turnover.
EU Commissioner Thierry Breton lauded the historic moment, hailing the EU as the inaugural continent to establish explicit guidelines for AI usage. He underscored the AI Act as a launchpad, not merely a rulebook, fostering the EU’s startups and researchers to lead the global AI race.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen emphasized the AI rules as a distinctive legal framework, fostering the development of trustworthy technology that upholds safety and fundamental rights.
Dragos Tudorache, one of the European Parliament’s key negotiators, highlighted the focus on powerful AI models, ensuring they don’t pose systemic risks to the EU.
The debate over the use of AI in biometric surveillance had sparked a contentious divide, weighing national security and defense against privacy concerns, underscoring the delicate balance governments worldwide strive to strike with AI technology.
As Europe pioneers ambitious AI regulations, global tech giants continue to push the boundaries. OpenAI, backed by Microsoft, and Alphabet’s unveiling of Gemini highlight the expanding frontiers of AI technology, amid both accolades and apprehensions.
The EU’s robust AI legislation could serve as a model for other governments, presenting an alternative to the US’s less stringent approach and China’s interim rules, ultimately shaping the global landscape of AI governance.