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European Union releases first AI rules

by on09 December 2023

Do no harm

European Union negotiators have hatched out a deal on the world's first comprehensive artificial intelligence rules, paving the way for legal oversight of technology used in popular generative AI services like ChatGPT.

Negotiators from the European Parliament and the bloc's 27 member countries overcame significant differences on controversial points, including generative AI and police use of facial recognition surveillance, to sign a tentative political agreement for the Artificial Intelligence Act.

European Commissioner Thierry Breton said the EU has become the first continent to set clear rules for using AI.

The result came after marathon closed-door talks this week, with one session lasting 22 hours before a second round kicked off Friday morning. Officials provided scant details on what will make it into the eventual law, which wouldn't take effect until 2025 at the earliest.

Negotiators needed a political victory for the flagship legislation. Still, they were expected to leave the door open to further talks to work out the fine print, which would likely bring more backroom lobbying.

The AI Act was initially designed to mitigate the dangers of specific AI functions based on their level of risk, from low to unacceptable. But lawmakers pushed to expand it to foundation models, the advanced systems that underpin general-purpose AI services like ChatGPT and Google's Bard chatbot.

Foundation models looked set to be one of Europe's most significant sticking points. However, negotiators reached a tentative compromise early in the talks, despite opposition led by France, which called instead for self-regulation to help homegrown European generative AI companies compete with big US rivals, including OpenAI's backer Microsoft.

Under the deal, the most advanced foundation models with the most significant "systemic risks" will get extra scrutiny, including requirements to disclose more information, such as how much computing power was used to train the systems.

Last modified on 09 December 2023
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