As the development and use of artificial intelligence (AI) continue to gain momentum, discussions surrounding the legal and ethical implications of AI have become increasingly significant. While the US and China compete in AI advancement, the European Union focuses on European AI legislation and containing AI-related risks to protect its citizens.
The Debate on AI and Human Rights
The disruptive potential of AI on human values is a major concern, especially when considering the vulnerability of rights in the face of rapidly evolving technology. One such example is the controversial iBorderCtrl project in 2019, which used AI-powered lie detectors at the borders of Greece, Hungary, and Latvia.
AI Legislation in Europe
The primary goal of the European AI legislation is to protect citizens’ fundamental rights, such as the right to asylum and freedom from discrimination. Key objectives of the legislation include:
- Firstly, identifying “high risk” and “low risk” AI applications and prohibiting others
- Defining transparency rules for AI systems that interact with people
- Establishing rules for systems that manipulate and generate audio, images, and videos
- Regulating remote biometric identification systems as high risk
- Finally, ensuring a more inclusive and sustainable European AI market
Pressure from Stakeholders and Controversies
Human rights groups, unions, lawyers, activists, and tech companies like Google and Microsoft are all pushing for the AI Act. It will differentiate between general-purpose AI systems and those designed for specific purposes.
AI-powered lie detectors and “criminality prediction” systems have been widely debated. Critics argue that these technologies lack transparency and reproduce existing biases, such as racism and inequality. The AI Act may impose stricter limits or even ban such systems if their risks are excessive.
Global Impact and Challenges in European AI Legislation
The AI Act is currently under discussion in the European Parliament. It is considered a pioneering piece of legislation that could serve as a model for other countries. If the European Union succeeds in establishing a satisfactory regulatory framework, countries like Brazil may follow suit.
Despite the promising prospects for the AI Act, controversies and political and economic disputes make its implementation challenging. Many experts believe that the transparency and accountability requirements may be unfeasible in practice. It is estimated that the final approval or rejection of this project may occur by the end of next year. This will occur with the additional time needed for the market and states to adapt to new regulations if approved.
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The European AI legislation demonstrates a proactive approach to addressing the ethical, legal, and human rights challenges posed by artificial intelligence. While the ambitious scope of the AI Act could serve as a model for other countries, its implementation faces numerous challenges and potential roadblocks. As the world continues to grapple with the rapidly evolving landscape of AI, it is crucial for governments and policymakers to strike a balance between fostering innovation and protecting the rights and interests of their citizens.