Crucial Vote on the Use of AI in the European Union
On Wednesday, June 14, 2023, the European Parliament adopted through vote a new set of rules called the Artificial Intelligence Act, an up-to-date document framing the use and development of AI in harmony with European values.
The rules voted in favour today by the members in the European Parliament aim to develop AI in line with EU rights. The text follows the principles adopted in the last years during the public debate on a human-centric and trustworthy AI: the presence of human oversight, the safety of users, their privacy, transparency of decisions, non-discrimination, and the social and environmental wellbeing.
It is the first time when AI systems with an unacceptable level of risk are clearly prohibited. Examples of intrusive and discriminatory uses of AI are: the social scoring or the classification of people based on their social behaviour or personal features; biometric identification in public spaces, in real time or afterwards, with the exception of law enforcement and only after judicial authorization; predictive policing or algorithmic criminology, which claims that crimes can be predicted or anticipated, but which easily leads to discrimination and marginalisation; emotion recognition systems; the creation of facial recognition databases starting from untargeted scraping of facial images from public domain; a last addition on the high-risk AI systems are the ones used to influence voters and the outcome of elections. Generative AI systems (e.g., ChatGPT) are also required to disclose the fact that their content is AI-generated, thus helping to discern reality from artificially generated images or other form of content.
The main feature of this new document is thus the interdiction of certain AI developments that show a disregard for the wellbeing and privacy of European citizens. Nonetheless, the document wishes to encourage economic and technological growth, while also setting the innovation and development of AI in an ethical framework.
The Artificial Intelligence Act was led by the co-rapporteurs Dragos Tudorache and Brando Benifei. Dragos Tudorache (Romania) has offered details on the goal of this European initiative: “The AI Act will set the tone worldwide in the development and governance of artificial intelligence, ensuring that this technology, set to radically transform our societies through the massive benefits it can offer, evolves and is used in accordance with the European values of democracy, fundamental rights, and the rule of law”. The other co-rapporteur, Brando Benifei (Italy), said that this is “the first-ever horizontal legislation on AI in the world, which we are confident will set a true model for governing these technologies with the right balance between supporting innovation and protecting fundamental values.”