Brussels approves draft AI Act in historic vote on 14 Wednesday, 2023 – EU becomes the first large regulator to create global standards on use of Artificial Intelligence
By Tina Kamilaki, LLM, Senior Associate T&P
Within the context of the EU’s digital strategy, in April 2021, the European Commission proposed the first EU regulatory framework for Artificial Intelligence (AI). The proposal of a Regulation laying down harmonized rules on Artificial Intelligence (AI Act) follows a human centric approach, based on the EU values and fundamental rights, and aims to give users the confidence to embrace AI-based solutions, while encouraging businesses to develop them, with the ultimate aim of increasing human well-being.
The AI Act proposal follows a risk-based approach and imposes regulatory burdens, requirements and obligations for providers and those deploying AI systems, proportionate to the level of risk the respective application of AI may generate.
Therefore, AI systems with an unacceptable level of risk to people’s safety, i.e. systems that deploy subliminal or purposefully manipulative techniques, exploit people’s vulnerabilities or are used for social scoring (classifying people based on their social behavior, socio-economic status, personal characteristics), would be prohibited. For high-risk AI systems, the requirements of high-quality data, documentation and traceability, transparency, human oversight, accuracy and robustness, are strictly necessary to mitigate the risks to fundamental rights and safety posed by AI, which are not covered by other existing legal frameworks. For other, low or minimal risk AI systems, only very limited transparency obligations are imposed, for example in terms of the provision of information to flag the use of an AI system when interacting with humans.
On Wednesday June 14, 2023, the European Parliament adopted its negotiating position on the AI Act, paving the way for the interinstitutional negotiations set to finalize the world’s first comprehensive law on AI.
The Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) substantially expanded the list of prohibited AI practices to include bans on intrusive and discriminatory uses of AI, such as real-time remote biometric identification systems in publicly accessible spaces, post-remote biometric identification systems (except for law enforcement purposes), biometric categorization systems using sensitive characteristics (e.g. gender, race, ethnicity, citizenship status, religion, political orientation), predictive policing systems (based on profiling, location or past criminal behavior), emotion recognition systems in law enforcement, border management, workplace, and educational institutions, and indiscriminate scraping of biometric data from social media or CCTV footage to create facial recognition databases (violating human rights and right to privacy).
In addition, MEPs ensured that AI systems that pose significant harm to people’s health, safety, fundamental rights or the environment will be classified as high-risk applications and added to the classification of high-risk AI systems the ones used to influence voters and the outcome of elections and in recommender systems used by social media platforms (with over 45 million users).
Also, as far as the foundation models are concerned, which were characterized as a “recent development in which AI models are developed from algorithms designed to optimize for generality and versatility of output”, the providers of such models would have to assess and mitigate possible risks (to health, safety, fundamental rights, the environment, democracy and rule of law) and register their models in the free, publicly accessible, easily understandable and machine-readable EU database before their release on the EU market. Providers of foundation models used in AI systems, specifically intended to generate, with varying levels of autonomy, content such as complex text, images, audio, or video (Generative AI) and providers who specialize a foundation model into a Generative AI system (like ChatGPT, DALL-E 2, and BERT) would have to a) comply with the transparency obligations (informing individuals that they are interacting with an AI system), b) train, and where applicable, design and develop the foundation model in such a way as to ensure adequate safeguards against the generation of content in breach of EU law, in line with the generally acknowledged state of the art, and c) without prejudice to fundamental rights, including the freedom of expression, as well as without prejudice to national or EU legislation on copyright, document and make publicly available a sufficiently detailed summary of the use of training data protected under copyright law.
Furthermore, MEPs decided that the new Regulation will not affect research activities regarding AI systems insofar as such activities do not lead to or entail placing an AI system on the market or putting it into service and also will not apply to AI components provided under free and open-source licenses, except to the extent they are placed on the market or put into service by a provider as part of a high-risk AI system or of an AI system that falls under Title II (Prohibited Artificial Intelligence Practice) or Title IV (Transparency Obligations for Certain AI Systems) of the proposed Regulation.
Moreover, the new Regulation will promote regulatory sandboxes, or real life environments, established by public authorities to test AI before it is deployed and will also boost citizens’ right to file complaints about AI systems and receive explanations of decisions based on high-risk AI systems that significantly impact their fundamental rights.
The strong, cross-party endorsement (499 votes in favor, 28 against and 93 abstentions) of the AI Act proposal by the European Parliament, will kick off the negotiations with the European Council.
- Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL LAYING DOWN HARMONISED RULES ON ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE ACT) AND AMENDING CERTAIN UNION LEGISLATIVE ACTS [COM/2021/206 final, 2021/0106(COD]
- REPORT on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on laying down harmonized rules on Artificial Intelligence (Artificial Intelligence Act) and amending certain Union Legislative Acts, 22.5.2023 [COM (2021) 0206 – C9‑0146/2021 – 2021/0106 (COD)]
- DRAFT Compromise Amendments on the Draft Report Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on harmonized rules on Artificial Intelligence (Artificial Intelligence Act) and amending certain Union Legislative Acts [COM (2021) 0206 – C9 0146/2021 – 2021/0106 (COD)]
- MEPs ready to negotiate first-ever rules for safe and transparent AI | News | European Parliament (europa.eu)