European Union negotiators have reached an agreement on the world’s first comprehensive artificial intelligence rules.
The agreement sets the stage for legal oversight of technology used in popular generative AI services like ChatGPT.
Negotiators from the European Parliament and the bloc’s 27 member countries have overcome significant differences on generative AI and police use of facial recognition to sign a tentative political agreement for the Artificial Intelligence Act.
“Deal!” tweeted European commissioner Thierry Breton.
The European Parliament and member states “have finally reached a political agreement on the Artificial Intelligence Act!”, tweeted the parliamentary committee co-leading the body’s negotiating efforts.
Officials have provided limited details on what will be included in the eventual law, which will not take effect until at least 2025.
The EU took an early lead in the global race to establish AI regulations when it unveiled the first draft of its rulebook in 2021.
However, the recent surge in generative AI prompted European officials to scramble and update a proposal that could serve as a blueprint for the rest of the world.
Generative AI systems like OpenAI’s ChatGPT have become increasingly widespread in recent months, impressing users with their ability to generate text, photos, and songs. However, they have also raised concerns about job displacement, privacy, and copyright protection.
Now, the US, UK, China, and other global groups like the G7 are proposing their own regulations for AI, but they are still catching up to Europe.
Once the final version of the EU’s AI Act is determined, it will need approval from the bloc’s 705 politicians before the EU-wide elections next year. This approval is expected to be a formality.
The AI Act was initially designed to address the risks posed by specific AI functions, ranging from low to unacceptable levels. However, politicians pushed to expand its scope to include foundation models, the advanced systems that serve as the basis for general-purpose AI services like ChatGPT and Google’s Bard chatbot.
The most contentious issue was AI-powered facial recognition surveillance systems, and negotiators reached a compromise after intense bargaining.
While European politicians wanted a complete ban on public use of facial scanning and other “remote biometric identification” systems due to privacy concerns, member country governments wanted exemptions to allow law enforcement to use them in cases of serious crimes such as child sexual exploitation or terrorist attacks.