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Digging Into The Major New AI Law Just Passed By The European Union

It could have implications around the globe. Digging Into The Major New AI Law Just Passed By The European Union Shutterstock

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Mounting concerns about the risks associated with artificial intelligence have led to increased calls for governmental regulation. While most countries are considering such measures, the European Union just handed down some of the most ambitious safeguards yet.

What’s in the law

Lawmakers representing the 27 EU nations approved laws that are slated to go into effect by the end of this year. The Artificial Intelligence Act, as it’s called, embraces a holistic approach to the broad AI industry while regulating individual applications based on the magnitude of their respective potential risks.

As Romanian legislator Dragos Tudorache, a top negotiator for the law, explained, the regulation “has nudged the future of AI in a human-centric direction, in a direction where humans are in control of the technology and where it — the technology — helps us leverage new discoveries, economic growth, societal progress and unlock human potential.”

Some of the most notable aspects include:

  • Transparency and data-use requirements for “high-risk” AI systems
  • Bans on most use of AI for “biometric identification,” such as scanning faces in public
  • Fines totaling the equivalent of up to $38 million for violations

Low-risk systems will be encouraged to abide by voluntary regulations, but stricter rules will be enforced for applications that deal with healthcare, infrastructure, and other high-risk uses.

Global implications

The EU law is expected to be enforced as early as May, though specific regulations will be implemented in stages. There’s some hope that other countries — including the U.S. — will be able to use some of its novel requirements to craft their own regulations.

Of course, with AI capabilities increasing at breakneck speed, rules will have to be updated and adapted just as quickly … and the EU acknowledges that this law is just the first step toward its goal of protecting citizens from harm.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee March 14th, 2024
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