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Brussels warns against ‘paranoia’ when regulating generative AI

by Joey De Leon

EU Official Urges Balanced Approach to Regulating Artificial Intelligence

Věra Jourová, the European Commission’s vice-president for values and transparency, has cautioned against being overly restrictive and paranoid when it comes to regulating generative artificial intelligence (AI). According to Jourová, the fear of AI technology could hamper innovation, and the forthcoming legislation in the European Union (EU) should not be driven by dystopian concerns.

Jourová emphasized the need for a solid analysis of the potential risks associated with AI, rather than allowing paranoia to dictate the regulatory framework. She further stated that it is important not to classify things as high risk if they do not currently pose significant dangers. Instead, the process should be dynamic, with potential risks being added to the high-risk category as they arise.

The EU has been at the forefront of efforts to regulate AI, but other major players such as the US and China are also debating their own controls on AI development and usage. Highlighting the need for balanced regulation, Jourová acknowledged that excessive regulation could hinder technological and business innovation.

Jourová’s comments come as the final stretch of negotiations begins among the commission, European parliament, and member states to finalize the AI act, two-and-a-half years after the legislation was proposed. The aim is to conclude the discussions by the end of the year.

These negotiations have been prompted by concerns raised by businesses regarding generative AI’s potential for manipulating public opinion through deep fakes. There are also concerns among some members of the European parliament that AI technology could generate content that violates copyright laws.

While the commission’s original draft centered on protecting human rights such as privacy, the parliament has included legal obligations on the creators of foundation models and their applications. This would hold them accountable for the way the technology is used. Developers of generative AI models would be required to disclose AI-generated content and provide summaries of copyrighted data used in their training to combat disinformation and illegal content.

Brando Benifei, one of the parliament’s leading negotiators, emphasized the need for binding rules and actionable rights instead of a principles-based approach. However, businesses have cautioned that overly stringent requirements and banning certain practices could stifle innovation.

The EU sees its model as setting the standards for the democratic world, but China is not included in this effort. According to Jourová, the EU and China are more rivals than partners in the technology world, and there is a low level of trust between them.

Collaboration between the US and EU in the field of AI is seen as crucial to counter China’s influence in the digital realm. The US under-secretary for economic growth, energy, and the environment, Jose Fernandez, expressed concerns about the potential pitfalls of AI in certain countries. However, he also acknowledged the significant benefits of the technology that both the US and EU aim to maximize.

In conclusion, while regulating AI is crucial for addressing potential risks, achieving a balanced approach is necessary to avoid stifling innovation. As the EU nears the finalization of its AI legislation, striking the right balance will be vital for fostering technological advancement while ensuring responsible and ethical AI development and usage.

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