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The European Parliament has approved its stance on the AI Act

The European Parliament has taken a significant stride in the direction of regulating artificial intelligence by overwhelmingly voting to adopt its position of opposition towards the forthcoming AI Act. The act aims to govern AI by considering its potential for harm and follows a risk-based approach, prohibiting applications that pose an unacceptable danger and imposing strict regulations for high-risk use cases.


The timing of AI regulation has been a topic of debate, but Dragoș Tudorache, one of the European Parliament's co-rapporteurs on the AI Act, emphasized the necessity to regulate AI now due to its profound impact.


Dr. Ventsislav Ivanov, an AI Expert and Lecturer at Oxford Business College, commended the EU for taking on the challenge of regulating artificial intelligence, acknowledging the risks associated with technologies that are already transforming our daily lives. He compared the task to Hercules battling the seven-headed hydra, highlighting the difficulties involved in challenging global tech companies and other interested parties.


The adoption of the AI Act faced uncertainty as a political deal fell apart, resulting in amendments proposed by various political groups.


A major point of contention was the use of Remote Biometric Identification, with liberal and progressive lawmakers aiming to ban its real-time use, except for post-investigations of serious crimes. The center-right European People's Party attempted to introduce exceptions for extraordinary circumstances like terrorist attacks or missing persons, but their efforts were unsuccessful.


The European Parliament plans to mandate the labeling of AI-generated content and the disclosure of training data protected by copyright. This move comes in response to the widespread attention garnered by generative AI, such as ChatGPT, prompting the European Commission to initiate outreach initiatives to foster international alignment on AI regulations.

MEPs made significant changes to the AI Act, including expanding the list of prohibited practices to encompass subliminal techniques, biometric categorization, predictive policing, internet-scraped facial recognition databases, and emotion recognition software.

An additional layer was introduced for high-risk AI applications, extending the list of high-risk areas and use cases to include law enforcement, migration control, and recommender systems of prominent social media platforms.


Robin Röhm, CEO of Apheris, remarked that the passage of the plenary vote on the EU's AI Act represents a significant milestone in AI regulation but raises more questions than answers. Röhm expressed concerns about the impact on start-ups' competitiveness and the likelihood of reduced investments in EU-based companies. The risk-based approach proposed by the EU is expected to burden the European ecosystem and make investment less attractive.


With the European Parliament adopting its position on the AI Act, interinstitutional negotiations will commence with the EU Council of Ministers and the European Commission. These negotiations, known as trilogues, will address key points of contention such as high-risk categories, fundamental rights, and foundation models.


Spain, which assumes the rotating presidency of the Council in July, has prioritized finalizing the AI law as its top digital objective. The goal is to reach an agreement by November, with multiple trilogues planned as a backup.


The negotiations are expected to intensify in the coming months as the EU strives to establish comprehensive regulations for AI, striking a balance between innovation and governance while ensuring the protection of fundamental rights.


“The key to good regulation is ensuring that safety concerns are addressed while not stifling innovation. It remains to be seen whether the EU can achieve this,” concludes Röhm.

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