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European Parliament passes landmark Artificial Intelligence Act for transparency and copyright regulations

The EU Artificial Intelligence Act gets parliamentary approval, making way for transparency and copyright regulations in General Purpose AI systems.

On March 13, the European Parliament passed a comprehensive legal framework governing the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) within the EU. Titled the Artificial Intelligence Act, the law was passed by Members of the European Parliament (MEP) by a 523-46 majority, with 49 abstentions. The law is intended to promote “human-centric and trustworthy AI” and safeguard democracy and fundamental rights as enshrined in the charter of the European Union.

The legislation regulates AI systems based on their potentially harmful effects and risks to human life, democracy and fundamental rights. It categorises certain AI systems as harmful and bans them outright, some as high-risk and regulates them strictly and some as low-risk, which face light regulation. It also requires makers of General Purpose AI (GPAI) systems to be transparent about their training dataset and enforce compliance with EU copyright laws.

In the context of the Artificial Intelligence Act, it should be remembered that earlier the European Parliament passed a resolution in 2021, banning the use of AI and Biometric Mass Surveillance by the police.

Some AI systems that are banned outright

The law prohibits certain AI systems that the European Parliament deems dangerous to humans and democracy. These include:

  • AI systems with the capacity to negatively influence the behaviour of people or exploit vulnerable populations, with exceptions for psychological therapy and advertising
  • Biometric categorisation systems are used to infer further details about the private lives of citizens
  • Discriminatory social scoring systems
  • Real-time biometric identification systems outside of specific law enforcement uses are banned
  • AI-based risk assessments and predictive profiles of people are prohibited and cannot be used to judge a natural person

High-risk AI systems subject to mandatory requirements

AI systems that could have a “significant harmful impact on the health, safety and fundamental rights of persons” are classified as high-risk. Such systems are to be stringently regulated. These include:

  • AI systems that are part of safety components in other machines or systems
  • AI systems used to maintain and monitor credit scores
  • AI systems are used to manage essential public services such as social security benefits, healthcare services, social and housing assistance, etc.
  • AI systems used by law enforcement authorities
  • AI systems used in critical infrastructure, education and vocational training, employment, essential private and public services (e.g. healthcare, banking),  migration and border management, justice and democratic processes (e.g. influencing elections)

General Purpose AI faces transparency and copyright regulations

General Purpose AI systems (GPAI), which can perform a wide range of tasks such as image/audio recognition, speech/text generation, pattern detection, translation, etc. will be regulated. This will include generative AI tools such as ChatGPT.

  • GPAI systems must publish detailed summaries of their training content
  • Such systems must also comply with EU copyright laws
  • More powerful GPAI systems that may have higher risks will face stronger regulations including performing model evaluations, assessing and mitigating systemic risks, and reporting on incidents

Measures to support innovation

All member states must establish a national AI ‘regulatory sandbox’ which shall provide for a “controlled environment that fosters innovation and facilitates the development, training, testing and validation of innovative AI systems for a limited time before their being placed on themarket.”

Exceptions

The act has several exemptions, both as a whole and for specific sections.

  • The Act does not apply to third-party nations outside the EU and international organisations while operating within the framework of cooperation.
  • AI systems used for national security, military or defence purposes are exempt from the act.
  • AI systems developed specifically for scientific purposes and systems that have not yet been placed on the market or deployed are also exempt.
  • Law enforcement authorities are allowed to use real-time biometric identification in public spaces but only under certain expressly defined situations.

Note: The headline was edited for clarity based on editorial inputs on 14/03/2024 at 6:20 pm.

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