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A New Law Restricting Generative AIs Passed in Europe

The newly endorsed act aims to ban "unacceptable AI practices" in the EU. Finally.

After nearly two years of "cold war" between humans and generative artificial intelligence, the world's first law restricting AIs was finally passed in the European Union in a majority vote that took place on Wednesday.

Endorsed by an overwhelming majority of 523 in favor, 46 against, and 49 abstentions in the European Parliament, the new act aims to protect human rights by assigning obligations to AI systems based on their potential risks and levels of impact, without hindering the field of artificial intelligence innovations itself. Although it will take some time before the law comes into effect, once implemented, it will impose limitations on both high-risk AI systems and general-purpose AIs, such as the GPT-4 language model and image generators.

"We finally have the world's first binding law on artificial intelligence, to reduce risks, create opportunities, combat discrimination, and bring transparency," commented the Internal Market Committee Co-Rapporteur Brando Benifei. "Thanks to Parliament, unacceptable AI practices will be banned in Europe and the rights of workers and citizens will be protected. The AI Office will now be set up to support companies to start complying with the rules before they enter into force. We ensured that human beings and European values are at the very centre of AI's development."

As per the new law, some AI applications are set to be outright banned in the EU, such as biometric categorization systems based on sensitive characteristics and the scraping of facial images from the internet or CCTV footage to build facial recognition databases. Furthermore, the law prohibits emotion recognition in workplaces and schools, social scoring systems, predictive policing, and AI designed to manipulate human behavior.

The legislation is also set to impose limitations on so-called "high-risk AI systems" utilized across critical sectors such as infrastructure, education, public services, law enforcement, and justice. Developers of such systems will be obligated to minimize risks, maintain usage logs, ensure transparency, and implement human oversight. Furthermore, EU citizens will have the right to file complaints regarding AI systems and receive explanations concerning decisions made by high-risk AI systems.

Commonly used general-purpose AIs and the models they are based on will also be subject to restrictions, requiring adherence to transparency measures. These include compliance with EU copyright law and the provision of detailed summaries of the training data used. Additionally, any artificial or manipulated visual, auditory, or video content, such as deepfakes, will be required to be labeled as such.

"The EU has delivered. We have linked the concept of artificial intelligence to the fundamental values that form the basis of our societies," adds Dragos Tudorache, Civil Liberties Committee Co-Rapporteur. "However, much work lies ahead that goes beyond the AI Act itself. AI will push us to rethink the social contract at the heart of our democracies, our education models, labour markets, and the way we conduct warfare. The AI Act is a starting point for a new model of governance built around technology. We must now focus on putting this law into practice."

Before gaining formal endorsement from the Council, the law will undergo a final check by lawyer-linguists. It is expected to be published in the official Journal in May 2024.

Following publication, it will come into effect twenty days later and become fully applicable 24 months after that. However, there are exceptions: bans on prohibited practices take effect six months after the law's enactment, codes of practice after nine months, general-purpose AI regulations including governance after twelve months, and obligations for high-risk systems after thirty-six months.

Learn more about the new act here and don't forget to join our 80 Level Talent platform and our Telegram channel and follow us on InstagramTwitter, and LinkedIn, where we share breakdowns, the latest news, awesome artworks, and more.

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