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Thursday, May 25, 2023

Europe Takes Regulatory Aim at ChatGPT


Europe takes aim at ChatGPT with what might soon be the West’s first A.I. law. Here’s what it means

Ryan Browne

A key committee of lawmakers in the European Parliament have approved a first-of-its-kind artificial intelligence regulation — making it closer to becoming law.

The approval marks a landmark development in the race among authorities to get a handle on AI, which is evolving with breakneck speed. The law, known as the European AI Act, is the first law for AI systems in the West. China has already developed draft rules designed to manage how companies develop generative AI products like ChatGPT.

The law takes a risk-based approach to regulating AI, where the obligations for a system are proportionate to the level of risk that it poses.

The rules also specify requirements for providers of so-called “foundation models” such as ChatGPT, which have become a key concern for regulators, given how advanced they’re becoming and fears that even skilled workers will be displaced.

What do the rules say?

The AI Act categorizes applications of AI into four levels of risk: unacceptable risk, high risk, limited risk and minimal or no risk.

Unacceptable risk applications are banned by default and cannot be deployed in the bloc.

They include:

AI systems using subliminal techniques, or manipulative or deceptive techniques to distort behavior

AI systems exploiting vulnerabilities of individuals or specific groups

Biometric categorization systems based on sensitive attributes or characteristics

AI systems used for social scoring or evaluating trustworthiness

AI systems used for risk assessments predicting criminal or administrative offenses

AI systems creating or expanding facial recognition databases through untargeted scraping

AI systems inferring emotions in law enforcement, border management, the workplace, and education

Several lawmakers had called for making the measures more expensive to ensure they cover ChatGPT.

To that end, requirements have been imposed on “foundation models,” such as large language models and generative AI.

Developers of foundation models will be required to apply safety checks, data governance measures and risk mitigations before making their models public.

They will also be required to ensure that the training data used to inform their systems do not violate copyright law.

“The providers of such AI models would be required to take measures to assess and mitigate risks to fundamental rights, health and safety and the environment, democracy and rule of law,” Ceyhun Pehlivan, counsel at Linklaters and co-lead of the law firm’s telecommunications, media and technology and IP practice group in Madrid, told CNBC.

“They would also be subject to data governance requirements, such as examining the suitability of the data sources and possible biases.”

It’s important to stress that, while the law has been passed by lawmakers in the European Parliament, it’s a ways away from becoming law.

Why now?

Privately held companies have been left to develop AI technology at breakneck speed, giving rise to systems like Microsoft

-backed OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard.

Google on Wednesday announced a slew of new AI updates, including an advanced language model called PaLM 2, which the company says outperforms other leading systems on some tasks.

Novel AI chatbots like ChatGPT have enthralled many technologists and academics with their ability to produce humanlike responses to user prompts powered by large language models trained on massive amounts of data.

But AI technology has been around for years and is integrated into more applications and systems than you might think. It determines what viral videos or food pictures you see on your TikTok or Instagram feed, for example.

The aim of the EU proposals is to provide some rules of the road for AI companies and organizations using AI.

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