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Artificial Intelligence Act: All you need to know about the European Council’s first worldwide rules on AI

Artificial Intelligence Act: All you need to know about the European Council’s first worldwide rules on AI
Artificial Intelligence (AI) represents a dual-edged sword in the modern technological landscape, bringing unparalleled innovation alongside significant risks. As AI continues to evolve, balancing its transformative potential with robust risk management frameworks becomes crucial to harnessing its benefits while safeguarding against its inherent dangers.

On Tuesday (May 21), the Council of the European Union took a significant step towards this balancing act, setting a global benchmark by approving a groundbreaking law aimed at harmonising rules on AI. This landmark legislation follows a ‘risk-based’ approach, meaning the higher the potential harm to society, the stricter the regulations.

Here’s everything you need to know about the EU’s Artificial Intelligence Act.
What is the aim of the AI Act?
The law aims to foster the development and uptake of safe and trustworthy AI systems across the EU’s single market by both private and public actors, ensuring this fast-evolving technology can flourish and boost European innovation. Simultaneously, it aims to protect the fundamental rights of EU citizens while stimulating investment and innovation in AI across Europe.

The AI Act also provides for an innovation-friendly legal framework and aims to promote evidence-based regulatory learning. It foresees that AI regulatory sandboxes—enabling a controlled environment for the development, testing and validation of innovative AI systems—should allow for the testing of innovative AI systems in real-world conditions.
How will the AI Act differentiate the risks of AI systems?
The legislation plans to categorise the AI systems according to their risk levels. AI systems with limited risk will face minimal transparency obligations, whereas high-risk AI systems will need to meet a set of stringent requirements and obligations to gain access to the EU market.

For instance, AI systems such as cognitive behavioural manipulation and social scoring will be banned due to their unacceptable risk levels. The law also prohibits using AI for predictive policing based on profiling and systems that use biometric data to categorise people by race, religion or sexual orientation.
Who will the AI Act apply to?
The new legislation will be primarily applicable to the 27 members of the European Union. However, its impact will have a global reach, far beyond the 27-country bloc.

According to a Reuters report, companies outside the EU that use EU customer data in their AI platforms will need to comply. Other countries and regions are likely to use the AI Act as a blueprint as well.
How will the AI Act enforce the rules?
To ensure proper enforcement, several governing bodies will be established. These include:

  • An AI Office within the European Commission to enforce common rules across the EU.
  • A scientific panel to support enforcement activities.
  • An AI Board with representatives from member states to advise on the consistent application of the AI Act.
  • An advisory forum for stakeholders to provide technical expertise to the AI Board and the Commission.
How will the rulebreakers be penalised?
The fines for infringements to the AI Act are set as a percentage of the offending company’s global annual turnover in the previous financial year or a predetermined amount, whichever is higher. SMEs and start-ups are subject to proportional administrative fines.
When will the AI Act be implemented?
After being signed by the presidents of the European Parliament and of the Council, the legislative act will be published in the EU’s Official Journal in the coming days and enter into force twenty days after this publication. The new regulation will apply two years after its entry into force, with some exceptions for specific provisions.


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