The European Union’s New Rules for Generative AIImplications and Challenges
The European Union (EU) aims to establish blocwide rules for generative artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, such as ChatGPT, by the end of this year, according to European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager. The rapid emergence of ChatGPT and other similar tools has spurred numerous tech companies to capitalise on the AI boom. While this has generated excitement, it has also raised significant concerns regarding user privacy and safety, in the light of which, the EU is considering introducing new regulations to address the challenges posed by generative AI.
New Rules for AI Applications
Vestager, who oversees EU policies on competition and AI, stated that the proposed rules would require AI-generated content to be labelled. This could include photos, films or songs created using AI technologies. Furthermore, the rules would provide guardrails for AI use cases with the potential for discrimination based on factors such as gender, age or location. These guidelines would be particularly relevant in situations like mortgage or insurance application screenings.
However, Vestager emphasised that the proposed rules would not affect research in the field of AI. Indeed, researchers would still have the freedom to test, innovate and pursue their ideas, with the regulations only applying when AI technologies are put into practical use.
The Role of Big Tech Companies
Major technology companies, including Microsoft, Google and Amazon, are actively pushing into the field of generative AI. Vestager argued that these companies should be required to explain how their generative AI tools make decisions, as well as to disclose the ethical guardrails they have established for such technology.
Competition Policy and Existing Legislation
The EU had already begun preparing new legislation to regulate AI before the rise of advanced tools like ChatGPT. However, the proposed rules would need to be altered to accommodate generative AI technologies. Vestager expressed hope for reaching a political agreement later this year to enable the implementation of these regulations.
Regarding competition policy in a field dominated by giants such as Microsoft, which invests in ChatGPT creator OpenAI, and Google, Vestager said the EU is still in the exploratory phase. Known for her tough stance on Big Tech, she suggested that the EU’s Digital Markets Act could be adjusted if a competition case involving AI emerged. Additionally, the Digital Services Act, which mandates companies to prevent the spread of harmful information, could be applied in specific scenarios until generative AI rules are established.
Vestager outlined plans to establish an office to provide advice on and investigate potential AI-related concerns. She also expressed hope for the development of common rules on AI technology within the Group of Seven (G7).
The EU’s new rules for generative AI seek to address the growing concerns surrounding user privacy, safety, and potential discrimination. By establishing guidelines and requirements for AI-generated content and its applications, the EU aims to create a safer and more ethical environment for AI technologies. However, the implementation of these rules and their implications for both Big Tech and smaller players in the industry remain to be seen.
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