EU agrees to regulate artificial intelligence, a world first

On Friday 8 December, the European Union agreed on unprecedented legislation at the global level to regulate artificial intelligence, after three days of intense negotiations between member states and the European Parliament. A legal framework that aims to strike a balance between the need to limit the possible abuses of AI without slowing down the innovation capacity of European companies in the field.

The EU's co-legislators have reached a "political agreement" on a text that should promote innovation in Europe, while limiting the possible excesses of these highly advanced technologies. REUTERS - DADO RUVIC

By: RFI Follow


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With our correspondent in Brussels, Jean-Jacques Héry

The EU adopted a legal framework for the regulation of artificial intelligence late on Friday evening. The principle is simple, the adopted text regulates Artificial Intelligence systems according to the potential risk they represent for the security and rights of citizens. The higher the risk, the more rules there are.

Thus, before entering the market, systems considered to be high risk will undergo a conformity assessment. And when this software is used in sensitive areas such as critical infrastructure, education or policing, it will be subject to a series of obligations, such as providing for human control over the machine.

Very limited facial recognition

In the particular case of content-generating AIs, such as ChatGPT for example, developers will have to ensure that the sounds, images and texts produced are identified as artificial. This is to avoid a possible manipulation of public opinion.

In the end, there are very few prohibitions so as not to stifle innovation, except in very specific areas. Thus, the remote biometric identification of people in public places, facial recognition in particular, was a point discussed at great length, with MEPs pointing to the risks of mass surveillance of populations. It will be banned, except in rare exceptions, such as the fight against terrorism or the search for victims of kidnappings, for example.

If the rules are not respected, the offending companies will be subject to fines of up to 7% of their turnover. Once commercialised, the AI systems will be monitored by national authorities under the aegis of a European Artificial Intelligence Office. The political agreement must now be complemented by technical work to finalise the text.

Read alsoBehind the scenes of artificial intelligence

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