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EU passes AI compliance law

March 13, 2024

The European Parliament has approved the first legal framework aimed at constraining the risks of AI. The AI Act works by classifying products according to risk and adjusting scrutiny accordingly. EU law makers said it would make the tech more “human-centric.”

“The AI act is not the end of the journey but the starting point for new governance built around technology,” MEP Dragos Tudorache declared.

China already has introduced a patchwork of AI laws. In 2023, US President Joe Biden announced an executive order requiring AI developers to share data with the government. But the EU has gone further.

“The adoption of the AI Act marks the beginning of a new AI era and its importance cannot be overstated,” Enza Iannopollo, principal analyst at Forrester, told the BBC. “The EU AI Act is the world’s first and only set of binding requirements to mitigate AI risks”.

The main idea of the law is to regulate AI based on its capacity to cause harm to society. The higher the risk, the stricter the rules. AI applications that pose a “clear risk to fundamental rights” will be banned, for example some of those that involve the processing of biometric data.

AI systems considered “high-risk”, such as those used in critical infrastructure, education, healthcare, law enforcement, border management or elections, will have to comply with strict requirements. Low-risk services, such as spam filters, will face the lightest regulation – the EU expects most services to fall into this category.

The Act also creates provisions to tackle risks posed by the systems underpinning generative AI tools and chatbots. These would require producers of some so-called general-purpose AI systems, that can be harnessed for a range of tasks, to be transparent about the material used to train their models and to comply with EU copyright law. Several AI firms are facing lawsuits over their use of data to train generative models.

The Act still has to pass several more steps before it formally becomes law.

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