Europe will have the world’s first artificial intelligence legislation

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legislacion inteligencia artificial

Europe will have the world’s first artificial intelligence legislation

Given the lack of regulation on Artificial Intelligence in Europe, the European Commission carried out a proposal, called “Report on Artificial Intelligence in the Digital Age”, which was approved by the European Parliament. This has been the beginning of the path through which the lines for the development of the first legislation on Artificial Intelligence in the world have started to be drawn.

After 18 long months of negotiations between the euro-deputies of the different political groups, it has finally been possible to reach this agreement that begins the creation and development of a new regulation on Artificial Intelligence.

Specifically, the German rapporteur, Axel Voss, has been responsible for promoting and carrying out this initiative to create a regulation to govern this field as complete as Artificial Intelligence. He has declared that “Artificial Intelligence has a strategic relevance” and that thanks to the development of this new legislation “Europe will be a pioneer and will set the future global legal guidelines in this area”.

Regarding the purely technical aspects of Artificial Intelligence, Europe has a long way to go to catch up with powers such as China or the USA, but the idea is to start taking firm steps to position itself as a world leader in terms of establishing a legal basis for Artificial Intelligence-based systems to operate or be developed under a specific set of rules or regulations in Europe.

Currently, European investment in Artificial Intelligence (with only public capital) is around Euro 1,000 million, an amount much lower than the investment made by countries such as the USA or China (5,100 and 6,800 million Euros, respectively). The expectations given by the Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vesteger, are for an increase in this investment to an amount of 20 billion euros per year (including public and private capital).

It is important to highlight that this new regulation will include specific mechanisms of human supervision in cases of special risk, as would be the case of especially sensitive sectors such as health, education, or mobility, where the application of technology based on Artificial Intelligence could lead to possible discrimination, requiring human involvement and intervention to reduce these problems that could lead to decisions that could affect the population in a relevant way.

Thus, this new legislation will differentiate Artificial Intelligence according to the degree to which it may affect fundamental rights such as, for example, non-discrimination or privacy, and not according to the sector in which it is applied, or the technology used.

In addition, this new legislation will include levels where risk is measured with regard to the use of Artificial Intelligence, establishing as the first level the inadmissible risk that implies a threat to security, prohibiting its use in those cases that can be included in this first level (such as the use of systems that encourage dangerous behavior to minors, etc.).

One of the points that has caused most controversy within the Commission regarding the development of this new proposed legislation has been the case of facial recognition technology and the prohibition of its use. In this sense, and although none of the amendments related to this issue have been approved yet, the Commission wanted to establish a special category where its use would be prohibited in general terms, although it could be allowed for exceptional cases such as the search for missing children, the prevention of an attack or terrorist threat, the search for a suspect who has committed a serious crime, etc.

However, the main challenge facing the European Union in this regard is to ensure the population that Artificial Intelligence is not used for illicit purposes such as mass surveillance of citizens that violates the fundamental right to privacy, taking the lead both for the development of this technology, making a responsible use of it, and for the creation of regulations to ensure and defend compliance with democratic principles.

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