Chairman and Chief Editor
Bedour Ibrahim

The EU brokered provisional political consensus in early December

World’s first major act to regulate AI passed by European lawmakers

Wednesday 13/March/2024 - 05:46 PM
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The European Union’s parliament on Wednesday approved the world’s first major set of regulatory ground rules to govern the mediatized artificial intelligence at the forefront of tech investment.

The EU brokered provisional political consensus in early December، and it was then endorsed in the Parliament’s Wednesday session، with 523 votes in favour، 46 against and 49 votes not cast.

A global standard-setter

“Europe is NOW a global standard-setter in AI،” Thierry Breton، the European Commissioner for internal market، wrote on X.

President of the European Parliament، Roberta Metsola، described the act as trail-blazing، saying it would enable innovation، while safeguarding fundamental rights.

“Artificial intelligence is already very much part of our daily lives. Now، it will be part of our legislation too،” she wrote in a social media post.

Dragos Tudorache، a lawmaker who oversaw EU negotiations of the agreement، hailed the agreement، but noted that the biggest hurdle remains implementation.

Born in 2021، the EU AI Act divides the technology into categories of risk، ranging from “unacceptable” — which would see the technology banned — to high، medium and low hazard.

The regulation is expected to enter into force at the end of the legislature in May، after passing final checks and receiving endorsement from the European Council. Implementation will then be staggered from 2025 onwards.

Some EU countries have previously advocated self-regulation over government-led curbs، amid concerns that stifling regulation could set hurdles in Europe’s progress to compete with Chinese and American companies in the tech sector. Detractors have included Germany and France، which house some of Europe’s promising AI startups.

The EU has been scrambling to keep pace with the consumer impact of tech developments and the market supremacy of key players.

Last week، the Union brought into force landmark competition legislation set to rein in U.S. giants. Under the Digital Markets Act، the EU can crack down on anti-competitive practices from major tech companies and force them to open out their services in sectors where their dominant position has stifled smaller players and choked freedom of choice for users. Six firms — U.S. titans Alphabet، Amazon، Apple، Meta، Microsoft and China’s Bytedance — have been put on notice as so-called “gatekeepers.”

Concerns have been mounting over the potential for abuse of artificial intelligence، even as heavyweight players like Microsoft، Amazon، Google and chipmaker Nvidia beat the drum for AI investment.