Key committees in the European Parliament voted to backdraft legislation on artificial intelligence along with its amendments to reign in generative AI like ChatGPT.
The vast majority of European lawmakers (MEPs) on the committee on civil liberties and on consumer protection voted in favor of the draft AI Act.
According to a statement released after the vote, the text outlines curbs on how the technology can be used across Europe while simultaneously allowing for innovation.
The draft rules will now be presented to the full parliament next month for adoption. Afterward, details will be finalized with the EU member states and the European Commission before it is made into a final law.
The AI regulations have become more urgent in the face of the rapid development of ChatGPT, which has shown the benefits and opportunities provided by the advanced tech but also shows the perils of the fake content it can generate.
After the vote, co-rapporteur Brando Benifei of Italy said in a statement:
We are on the verge of putting in place landmark legislation that must resist the challenge of time. It is crucial to build citizens’ trust in the development of AI. We are confident our text balances the protection of fundamental rights with the need to provide legal certainty to businesses and stimulate innovation in Europe.
What is the AI Act?
First proposed in 2021, the AI Act would set out rules governing any product and service that uses an artificial intelligence system.
Based on the four ranks of AI (between minimal to unacceptable), riskier applications will face tougher rules, and require more transparency and accuracy.
Policing tools that aim to predetermine where crimes will happen and by whom, are expected to be banned. Remote facial recognition technology will also be banned with the exception of countering and preventing a specific terrorist threat.
The aim is “to avoid a controlled society based on AI,” Benifei had said earlier on Wednesday. “We think that these technologies could be used instead for good and also for bad, and we consider the risks to be too high.”
While the original document does not cover chatbots at length, lawmakers added an amendment to put ChatGPT and similar generative AI on the same level as high-risk systems.
Once approved, the EU says the law would comprise “the world’s first rules on artificial intelligence.”
The agreement between the two parliamentary committees on Thursday is merely the first step in a long and grueling bureaucratic process that could take years before it becomes law across the EU’s 27-member block.