A landmark AI regulation accord has been reached in Europe.


The European Union (EU) established itself as a global standard-setter by reaching a provisional agreement on Friday to implement exhaustive regulations governing artificial intelligence (AI).

A landmark AI regulation accord has been reached in Europe. Significant advancements were achieved in forming the future of AI governance through the collaboration of European Parliament members and EU countries, following an extensive 24-hour debate and nearly 15 hours of negotiations.

The agreement was described by European Commissioner Thierry Breton as a “historic day,” with an emphasis on Europe’s dedication to leading the way in responsible AI practices worldwide. The primary focus of the accord is on the transparency obligations that govern general-purpose AI systems (GPAI) and foundation models such as ChatGPT before their market entry.

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As per the terms of the agreement, high-impact foundation models are obligated to comply with stringent transparency protocols. These protocols encompass elaborate summaries of training data, adherence to EU copyright law, and technical documentation. Furthermore, models that exhibit systemic risks are subjected to rigorous assessments, adversarial testing, reporting of incidents to the European Commission, implementing cybersecurity measures, and reporting on energy efficiency.

Government implementation of real-time biometric surveillance in public areas is limited to specific criminal cases, threat prevention, and suspect inquiries for the most heinous offenses. Cognitive behavioral manipulation, untargeted extraction of facial images, social scoring, and biometric categorization systems that infer sensitive personal attributes are expressly prohibited in the agreement.

The right to lodge complaints and obtain explanations is bestowed upon consumers. Violations of this right may result in fines of up to 35 million euros (or 7% of global turnover) or 7.5 million euros ($8.1 million) in penalties.

Although widely praised as a substantial advancement, the agreement encountered disapproval from diverse quarters. The business organization DigitalEurope was alarmed by the additional responsibilities imposed on organizations, specifically the eleventh-hour addition of regulations pertaining to foundation models. The legislation was subject to criticism by the privacy rights organization European Digital Rights due to its legalization of live public facial recognition, albeit with certain restrictions.

The forthcoming legislation is anticipated to be implemented early the following year, contingent upon official ratification from all parties involved, and will remain in effect for two years after that. In the current global context where governments are confronted with the challenge of reconciling the advantages and disadvantages of artificial intelligence, the European Union’s ambitious regulatory framework may serve as a model for other countries to emulate, providing an alternative to the United States more lax approach and China’s provisional regulations.

In the ongoing exploration of AI technology by prominent corporations such as OpenAI and Google, the European Union adopts a proactive position that seeks to reconcile the promotion of innovation with the protection of individual liberties and the welfare of society.