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Why Is EU Curbing The AI Impact And Will Other Countries Follow?

Artificial Intelligence in science fiction is depicted to be the fork roads between utopia or dystopia, mostly leaning towards the latter. Movies, books, and media outline that if the singularity is breached, humankind risks being the inferior entity. Although clear dramatization, famous voices from Elon Musk and Steven Hawking have expressed caution and fear, pressing the need to regulate AI, especially in the case of high-risk AI applications. The EU has created regulation, the largest international effort to curb the AI impact. 

EU Regulations Of This Scale Has Never Been Created

EU Regulation of this scale has never been created since there is the ambiguity of what AI is capable of. Technical leaders in the field outline that AI sentience is impossible, some say it is decades away, and some cry for immediate regulation. Murky areas create a reluctancy act with laws and regulations, especially since the field is extremely technical and nascent. Avi Gesser, the partner at Debevoise, said “With AI in general, regulators are reluctant to act, one, because they think it’s highly technical, two, because they’re worried about stifling innovation”.

The proposed EU regulation covers areas of autonomous driving, facial recognition, advertising, hiring, and credit scoring. The draft regulation divided rules into two distinct categories of AI, that being ‘normal’ AI, and ‘high risk’ AI. High-risk AI is prohibited or set to be subject to thorough risk assessments, and various compliance requirements.

EU’s Approach To High-Risk AI Applications

High-risk AI applications were outlined, such as using real-time facial recognition in law enforcement. Also under this category is the prohibition of “AI-based social scoring for general purposes done by public authorities”. These courses of action steer away from an Orwellian dystopia and mitigate governmental ability to abuse the technology. EU regulations would require a job recruitment CV-sorting software that proves fairness, accuracy, keeps accountability of activity, and has “appropriate human oversight”. Under certain training conditions, AI can be completely impartial for CV sorting, unlike humans. Furthermore, AI targeting vulnerable groups, such as gamblers, capitalizing on the addictive tendencies is restricted. Under the established rules, companies not compliant are subject to fines up to €20 million, or 4% of their annual global sales, whatever equates to the larger sum.

A concern was that the laws were vague, however, it is seen as a step in the right direction. Nikolas Kairinos, CEO of Soffos.ai, said “The European Commission’s proposed regime will not sit well with many in the community. Loose definitions like ‘high risk’ are unhelpfully vague. An ambiguous, tick-box approach to regulation that is overseen by individuals who may not have an in-depth understanding of AI technology will hardly inspire confidence”.

The breaking ground of EU regulation makes other regulatory bodies more comfortable with the following suit. Daniel Leufer, a Europe policy analyst, saidThere’s a very important message globally that certain applications of AI are not permissible in a society founded on democracy, rule of law, fundamental rights”. Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner said, “By setting the standards, we can pave the way to ethical technology worldwide and ensure that the EU remains competitive along the way”. These countries have become the forefront runners of the AI technological game, by hoovering copious personal data and deploying AI algorithms that compromise individual rights that the EU seeks to protect. Anu Bradford, a law professor at Columbia University, said “They actually want to have this global impact”.

Will EU’s AI Rules Harness The Efficient Development?

Benjamin Mueller, a policy analyst at the US think tank, had an opposing stance, considering the EU regulation as “a damaging blow to the Commission’s goal of turning the EU into a global A.I. leader” and would create “a thicket of new rules that will hamstring companies hoping to build and use AI in Europe” and cause them “to fall even further behind the United States and China.

The EU regulation is feared to reduce AI developments in Europe, whilst countries such as China and the United States continue to develop cutting-edge AI technologies without haltering compliance practices. However, the EU believes it will be the de facto standard for how AI is governed globally. The EU holds 450 million people, a large sector of global businesses which cannot be ignored. Also, businesses prefer to use the same AI algorithms across all customer bases. Thus, it would be easier to comply with EU regulation, as opposed to retraining different AI for the EU and maintaining a different software. Andre Franca, at CausaLens, said “The question that every firm in Silicon Valley will be asking today is, Should we remove Europe from our maps or not?” 

AI has integrated itself into almost every industry, with myriad applications, currently assisting humankind in efforts for finding correct molecules for fighting the COVID pandemic. There is a tightrope between regulation and innovation, not wanting to squander innovation with heavy regulation, but also not to allow free reigns. It is similar to parenting, where the fine line exists between negligence and helicopter parenting, a cautious eye with lenience is required.

Related To High-Risk AI, and EU Regulations:

AI In EU MedTech: Regulatory Challenges And Solutions

Are The Current AI Regulations A Necessary Measure? Or Do They Slow Down The Growth?

Does EU Blockchain Ecosystem Need More Support From The Regulators?

Jon is a writer for RegTech Global, specialized background is in Computer Science, Zoology, Finance, and Neuroscience. He is interested in biotechnology and Green-tech and pursues these fields in his professional life. Outside of writing, Jon is passionate about the outdoors, enjoying hiking, surfing, and skiing.


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