World’s first major law for artificial intelligence gets final EU green light

Technology

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European Union member states on Tuesday agreed the world’s first major law for regulating artificial intelligence, as institutions around the world race to introduce curbs for the technology.

The EU Council said that it reached final approval for the AI Act — a ground-breaking piece of regulation that aims to introduce the first comprehensive set of rules for artificial intelligence.

“The adoption of the AI act is a significant milestone for the European Union,” Mathieu Michel, Belgium’s secretary of state for digitization said in a Tuesday statement.

“With the AI act, Europe emphasizes the importance of trust, transparency and accountability when dealing with new technologies while at the same time ensuring this fast-changing technology can flourish and boost European innovation,” Michel added.

The AI Act applies a risk-based approach to artificial intelligence, meaning that different applications of the technology are treated differently, depending on the threats they pose to society.

The law prohibits applications of AI that are considered “unacceptable” in terms of their risk level. Forms of unacceptable AI applications feature so-called “social scoring” systems that rank citizens based on aggregation and analysis of their data, predictive policing, and emotional recognition in the workplace and schools.

High-risk AI systems cover autonomous vehicles or medical devices, which are evaluated on the risks they pose to the health, safety, and fundamental rights of citizens. They also include applications of AI in financial services and education, where there is a risk of bias embedded in AI algorithms.

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