EU clinches deal on landmark AI Act

STOCKHOLM: European Union policymakers on Friday agreed a provisional deal on landmark rules governing the use of artificial intelligence (AI), including governments’ use of AI in biometric surveillance and how to regulate AI systems such as ChatGPT.

Here are some reaction to the news from key people and experts:

Alexandra van Huffelen, Dutch minister of digitalisation:

“Dealing with AI means fairly distributing the opportunities and the risks. AI is set to play a major role in many of the sectors in which the Netherlands excels, such as agriculture, education, health care and peace and security.

“I’m extremely pleased with this European outline agreement. We must nonetheless remain vigilant in respect of both the opportunities and the risks around the use of AI and enforcement of the rules.”

Daniel Friedlaender, head of CCIA Europe (a non-profit trade association for computer and communications industry):

“Last night’s political deal marks the beginning of important and necessary technical work on crucial details of the AI Act, which are still missing. Regrettably, speed seems to have prevailed over quality, with potentially disastrous consequences for the European economy. The negative impact could be felt far beyond the AI sector alone.”

Dutch MEP Kim van Sparrentak, who worked closely on the draft AI rules:

“Europe chooses its own path and does not follow the Chinese surveillance state.

After a huge battle with the EU countries, we have restricted the use of these types of systems. In a free and democratic society you should be able to walk on the street without the government constantly following you on the street, at festivals or in football stadiums.”

Daniel Leufer, senior policy analyst at non-profit group, Access Now, which defends digital rights of people and communities at risk:

“Whatever the victories may have been in these final negotiations, the fact remains that huge flaws will remain in this final text: loopholes for law enforcement, lack of protection in the migration context, opt-outs for developers and big gaps in the bans on the most dangerous AI systems.”

Daniel Castro, vice president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF):

“Given how rapidly AI is developing, EU lawmakers should have hit pause on any legislation until they better understand what exactly it is they are regulating. There is likely an equal, if not greater, risk of unintended consequences from poorly conceived legislation than there is from poorly conceived technology. And unfortunately, fixing technology is usually much easier than fixing bad laws.

The EU should focus on winning the innovation race, not the regulation race. AI promises to open a new wave of digital progress in all sectors of the economy. But it is not operating without constraints.

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Existing laws and regulations apply, and it is still too soon to know exactly what new rules may be necessary. EU policymakers should re-read the tale of the tortoise and the hare. Acting quickly may give the illusion of progress, but it does not guarantee success.”

Enza Iannopollo, an analyst at Forrester, a research and advisory group:

“Despite the criticism, this is good news for businesses and society. For businesses, it starts providing companies with a solid framework for the assessment and mitigation of risks, that — if unchecked — could hurt customers and curtail businesses’ ability to benefit from their investments in the technology. And for society, it helps protect people from potential, detrimental outcomes.”

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