Decades in Business, Technology and Digital Law

The Artificial Intelligence Act: The EU Paves the Way for Regulation of AI

by | Apr 11, 2024 | Firm News


On March 13, 2024, the European Parliament made a significant stride in the regulation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) by adopting the Artificial Intelligence Act. This legislation is aimed at ensuring safety, protecting fundamental rights, and fostering innovation within the realm of AI. The Act’s adoption followed negotiations with member states that concluded in December 2023, reflecting a collective effort to shape the future of AI governance in Europe.

The AI Act introduces a comprehensive regulatory framework, structured around a risk-based classification of AI systems. This framework categorizes AI technologies into four risk levels: unacceptable, high, limited, and minimal. The Act stipulates stringent requirements for high-risk AI applications, encompassing aspects like transparency, data governance, and human oversight, to ensure they adhere to ethical standards and safeguard individual rights. Conversely, AI systems that present minimal risk are subject to fewer obligations, mainly revolving around transparency.

One of the pivotal features of the AI Act is its explicit prohibition of certain AI practices deemed unacceptable due to their potential threats to safety and fundamental rights. This includes, for instance, real-time biometric identification in public spaces. Additionally, the legislation mandates that general-purpose AI systems, like generative AI models, disclose when content is generated by AI, addressing ethical concerns around transparency and accountability.

The AI Act has been met with a mixed reception from various stakeholders. Tech companies like IBM have expressed support for the legislation, noting its alignment with ethical AI practices and the potential to foster a trustworthy AI ecosystem. IBM, in particular, has been proactive in developing tools to aid organizations in complying with the new regulations, highlighting the importance of governance in the AI domain).

However, the Act has also faced criticism from privacy and human rights advocates, who argue that it doesn’t go far enough in curbing the risks associated with AI. Concerns have been raised about the Act’s provisions on facial recognition and predictive policing, with critics pointing out potential loopholes that might allow for surveillance and other invasive uses of AI. Despite these criticisms, the Act is seen as a global benchmark, much like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), setting a precedent for AI regulation worldwide.

As the AI Act moves towards formal enactment, its implications for the tech industry, regulatory landscape, and society at large will be closely watched. The legislation represents a significant step in the EU’s efforts to balance the benefits of AI with the need to mitigate its risks, ensuring that AI development aligns with ethical standards and respects fundamental rights.