EU Takes Major Step Towards Pioneering AI Regulation with Council Approval

EU Takes Major Step Towards Pioneering AI Regulation with Council Approval


The European Council has recently moved to approve a pioneering, risk based artificial intelligence regulation, known as the AI Act. After clearing the final procedural hurdle with approval from the Council of the EU, this landmark legislation is set to become the first comprehensive rulebook governing AI applications anywhere in the world.

In a press release, the Council hailed the act as "ground-breaking" and stated it "can set a global standard for AI regulation" by virtue of being the first such framework. The European Parliament had already backed the AI Act in March. With the Council's green light, the law will now be published in the EU's Official Journal in the coming days, entering into force across the 27-nation bloc 20 days after publication by the end of June.

However, the new AI rules will be implemented in phases, with some provisions only applicable after a two-year transition period or even longer timelines. At its core, the legislation adopts a risk-based approach to regulating artificial intelligence uses. It outright bans a handful of "unacceptable risk" practices like exploiting vulnerabilities for user manipulation or deploying discriminatory social scoring systems.

A set of "high-risk" AI applications in areas like biometrics, employment, education, and critical infrastructure will face strict requirements before being marketed in the EU. Developers will need to register these systems, ensure human oversight, meet security and risk management obligations, and more. Lower-risk AI apps like chatbots and voice assistants are subject to lighter transparency rules, aiming to balance ethical AI promotion with continued innovation.

Significantly, the law also establishes governance for the rise of powerful "general-purpose" AI models like OpenAI's ChatGPT. While most face limited transparency duties, models crossing certain performance thresholds seen as posing systemic risks will draw tougher regulation.

"With the AI Act, Europe emphasizes trust, transparency and accountability for this fast-changing technology while boosting innovation," said Mathieu Michel, Belgian digitization chief.

To enforce the new rules, the law sets up an AI Office within the European Commission as well as an AI Board comprising national representatives to ensure consistent application in member states. It also mandates regulatory sandboxes to support AI development and real-world testing.

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