EU: Proposed Legal Framework on Artificial Intelligence

March 11, 2024

The Commission is proposing the first-ever legal framework on AI, which addresses the risks of AI and positions Europe to play a leading role globally. Parliament is working on the Commission proposal, presented on 21 April 2021, for turning Europe into the global hub for trustworthy AI.

The regulatory proposal aims to provide AI developers, deployers and users with clear requirements and obligations regarding specific uses of AI. At the same time, the proposal seeks to reduce administrative and financial burdens for business, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises.

The proposal is part of a wider AI package, which also includes the updated Coordinated Plan on AI. Together, the Regulatory framework and Coordinated Plan will guarantee the safety and fundamental rights of people and businesses when it comes to AI. And, they will strengthen uptake, investment and innovation in AI across the EU.

Ahead of the Commission's proposal on AI, the Parliament set up a special committee to analyse the impact of artificial intelligence on the EU economy. The committee's final report that MEPs adopted in May 2022 includes a proposal for a EU Roadmap to AI - a holistic approach for a common, long-term position that highlights the EU’s key values, objectives and values relating to AI.

In a resolution adopted by 623 votes in favour, 12 against and 61 abstentions, MEPs say that the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in education, culture and the audio-visual sector could have an impact on “the cornerstones of the fundamental rights and values of our society”. Therefore all technologies must be regulated and trained so to protect non-discrimination, gender equality, pluralism, as well as cultural and linguistic diversity.

On 20 October 2020, Parliament adopted three reports outlining how the EU can best regulate AI while boosting innovation, ethical standards and trust in technology.

One of the reports focuses on how to ensure safety, transparency and accountability, prevent bias and discrimination, foster social and environmental responsibility, and ensure respect for fundamental rights. All keeping the aspect of “The citizen is at the centre of this proposal”.

It will be mainly focusing on in protecting the Europeans providing the legal certainty necessary for innovation in their businesses.

• Regarding intellectual property rights, Parliament stressed the importance of an effective system for further AI development, including the issue of patents and new creative processes. Among the issues to be resolved is the intellectual property ownership of something entirely developed by AI.

• Guidelines for military and non-military use of AI, especially in areas such as military, justice and health were empathised. MEPs stressed the necessity of human oversight of AI systems used in defence and reiterated Parliament's call to ban AI-enabled autonomous lethal weapons.

• Parliament also adopted a report on the use of AI in education, culture and the audio-visual sector, calling for AI technologies to be designed in a way that prevents gender, social or cultural bias and protects diversity. Artificial intelligence should be trained to not replicate discrimination.

• Strong safeguards when artificial intelligence tools are used by the police, calling for a permanent ban on the automated recognition of people in public spaces as well as the transparency of algorithms to combat discrimination. It’s not a question of whether the AI systems have the potential to result in racially biased and discriminatory outcomes.

Human control in education

Addressing the different aspects of AI technology use in education, MEPs stress that teachers must always be able to correct decisions taken by the AI’s, especially regarding student selection and evaluation. At the same time, they highlight the need to enhance digital skills across Europe and train teachers to prepare for AI technology use in education. Teachers must never be replaced by AI technologies, especially in early childhood education, they warn.

Regulate media algorithms

To prevent algorithm-based content recommendations from negatively affecting the EU’s cultural and linguistic diversity, MEPs ask for specific indicators to be developed to measure diversity and ensure that European works are being promoted.

The Commission must establish a clear ethical framework for how AI technologies are used in EU media to ensure people have access to culturally and linguistically diverse content. Such a framework should also address the misuse of AI to disseminate fake news and disinformation, they add.

Teaching EU values to Artificial Intelligence

The use of biased data that reflect already existing gender inequality or discrimination should be prevented when training AI, MEPs urge. Instead, inclusive and ethical data sets must be developed, with the help of stakeholders and civil society, to be used during the “deep learning” process.

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