Europe Reaches Historic Deal On AI Regulation

Europe has reached a historical provisional deal about the regulation and governing of artificial intelligence after an agreement between European Union countries and European Parliament members was met on Friday. This deal will now result in the EU becoming the first major world power to pass laws that regulate AI.

However, the legislation itself is not yet finalized. In the coming days, all sides will work together to decide on what exactly will be in the ultimate legislation governing AI use.

In a press conference, Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner, said, “Europe has positioned itself as a pioneer, understanding the importance of its role as a global standard setter. This is yes, I believe, a historical day.”

Thus far, the deal requires AI systems such as ChatGPT to be transparent according to European laws. AI systems, such as general purpose AI systems (GPAI), will also have to comply with current copyright laws in the EU.

If any risks or incidents occur, AI companies will be regulated to report any and all issues to the European Commission. Incidents related to cybersecurity must be reported.

Though much of this deal is related to current EU laws in place, or has to do with AI being on the marketplace, the agreement also touches on when and how European governments can use artificial intelligence.

The use of AI has long been warned about by scientists, critics, and in science fiction novels. Many remain worried that AI could harm people — and some continue to be concerned about how governments or bad actors could utilize AI against civilians.

Europe’s historic deal touches on these potential problems. Governments will only be able to use AI for biometric surveillance in public spaces, in real-time, but only for certain crimes. Governments can also only use these types of artificial intelligence if they are trying to prevent threats or terrorist attacks.

Finally, governments can also use necessary AI models when searching for very serious criminals who pose a severe risk to the public.

Governments are barred from using AI in untargeted behavior, especially when it comes to using AI in searching CCTV or internet footage.

While this deal regulates AI in various ways, critics have already called out the EU for various reasons, and from all sides. European Digital Rights, a privacy rights group, remains critical of the agreement.

Ella Jakubowska, the group’s senior policy advisor, said, “It’s hard to be excited about a law which has, for the first time in the EU, taken steps to legalize live public facial recognition across the bloc.”

“Whilst the Parliament fought hard to limit the damage, the overall package on biometric surveillance and profiling is at best lukewarm,” Jakubowska stated.