AGENCY NEWS

4. Feb 2024

EU REGULATES KI – AND THUS INCREASES PRESSURE ON USA AND CHINA

By Dominik Mohilo, editor and IT expert at the Munich-based communications consultancy PR-COM, which mainly supports tech companies.

Europe is once again recognising its moral pioneering role in the world. While the two global technology superpowers, the USA and China, are experiencing a barely controlled proliferation of artificial intelligence, the EU has not only dedicated itself to technical progress, but to the big picture: the AI law that has now been passed is the first comprehensive regulation in this area. It was about time.

In the end, it took almost exactly 38 hours for the European Commission, the European Parliament and the EU member states to agree on the final set of rules for the EU AI Act in the trialogue. This was preceded by a phase lasting almost 1,000 days from 21 April 2021, during which numerous discussions were held, opinions submitted and countless amendments proposed. From the perspective of Svenja Hahn, who has been a member of the European Parliament for the FDP since 2019, the final negotiations from 6 to 8 December seemed almost rushed: there was talk of self-imposed time pressure and, once again, numerous adversities. The marathon sessions also reflect the unconditional desire of the member states to achieve something historic: The representatives of the EU bodies and member states met for 22 and 16 hours at a time.

But what goes around comes around – and if the EU AI Act is anything to go by, it’s a very good thing. With the first comprehensive law, Europe is not taking the lead when it comes to AI, but it is in terms of formulating a legal framework for its development and application. The EU has thus reached a milestone that will also have a considerable influence on the USA and China – and will put pressure on them to finally follow suit. Although there are already isolated initiatives to regulate AI in both countries, neither the “Land of the Free” nor the “Middle Kingdom” have yet gone beyond selective individual regulations and drafts.

Nevertheless, the global common denominator seems to be that regulating AI is not a question of “if”, but only of “how”. China’s government, for example, has been taking action against deepfakes since mid-April 2023 and has enacted new laws for this purpose. However, it can be assumed that companies and private individuals in particular will be affected by restrictions in China, while the government is exempting itself from such regulations for the time being.

In the USA, things are much further along. There, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) presented a draft “AI Bill of Rights” at the end of 2022, which is largely similar to the EU AI Act. This is hardly surprising, as lawyer Shabbi S. Khan, who specialises in AI, explains. Khan, who specialises in AI, explains: according to him, the USA will not be able to enact its own AI regulation that is too far removed from the EU AI Act. Of course, this is not for moral reasons, but for economic reasons – tech companies such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon operate globally. Having to comply with two fundamentally different sets of laws and regulations when developing and providing their AI-supported products would be a huge administrative burden. Simply ignoring European laws is also out of the question: the EU has proven in the past that it is perfectly capable of imposing painful fines or banning companies from the lucrative market altogether, as the Huawei case showed.

This also brings us back to Europe’s massively strengthened role in the tech world as a result of the EU AI Act. Even if we Europeans are still a long way from catching up technologically with the USA and China, our legislation, combined with our economic importance for both technology superpowers, has set the rules of the game that they will have to follow – for better or worse – in the future. And thus also, as difficult as it will be for them, our moral and ethical values, which form the basis for this law. Chapeau, Europe.

Sources:

https://www.faz.net/pro/d-economy/kuenstliche-intelligenz/handschlag-deal-zum-ai-act-am-ende-entscheiden-die-details-19380069.html

https://www.rnd.de/politik/kuenstliche-intelligenz-usa-drohen-bei-regulierung-ins-globale-hintertreffen-zu-geraten-JJNZA6ELF5HPJJTC2CYGOZQ2T4.html

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