EU settles on rules for generative AI, moves to surveillance

The tech world is waiting with bated breath for the results from the final negotiations in Brussels regarding the EU’s landmark AI Act. The discussions that commenced at 14:00 CET on Wednesday failed to reach a conclusion before the end of the day. However, negotiators did reportedly reach a compromise for the control of generative AI systems, such as ChatGPT. 

According to sources familiar with the talks, they will now continue on the topic of the controversial use of AI for biometric surveillance — which lawmakers want to ban. As reported by Reuters, governments may have made concessions on other accounts in order to be able to use the tech for purposes related to “national security, defence, and military.” 

Sources expect negotiations to continue for several more hours on Thursday. 

AI Act: innovation vs. regulation

While the AI Act — the first attempt globally at regulating artificial intelligence — has been in the works since April 2021, the rapid evolution of the technology and the emergence of GenAI has thrown a wrench in the gears of the Brussels machinery. 

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In addition to having to understand the technological side to foundation models — and anticipate the evolution of the technology over time so as not to render regulation obsolete within a couple of years — member states have settled into different camps. 

Lawmakers have proposed requirements for developers to maintain information on how they train their models, along with disclosing use of copyrighted material, and labelling content produced by AI, as opposed to humans. 

France and Germany (home to European frontrunners Mistral AI and Aleph Alpha) have opposed binding rules they say would handicap the bloc’s homegrown generative AI companies. Along with Italy, they would prefer to let developers self-regulate, adhering to a code of conduct. 

If Thursday’s talks fail to generate (see what we did there) any definitive conclusions, fears are that the whole act could be shelved until after the European elections next year — which will usher in a new Commission and Parliament. Given the barrage of news of developments, such as Google’s Gemini and ADM’s new super AI chip, regulators may well need to rewrite the rules entirely by then. Oh well, that is Brussels bureaucracy for you.

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