Artificial Intelligence: Margrethe Vestager to Announce the EU’s New Regulations For AI Today

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EU technology chief Margrethe Vestager to strike a middle path between the USA and China?

The EU’s rules set to be announced today will thrust on enhancing the region’s competitiveness but will do so with an emphasis on transparency, oversight, and protection of privacy. (VentureBeat)

The European Commission described its regulatory framework for AI as “an ecosystem of trust” in a draft leaked last month.

Strategy paper

A high-level group appointed by the Commission suggested guidelines around “trustworthy AI” in April 2019. Among the key requirements for these guidelines were human oversight, privacy, data governance, transparency, and diversity.

Europe is one of the largest trading blocks in the world and has been at the forefront of regulating the big tech giants such as Google and Facebook on issues of data privacy and security. The world will be watching its stance on regulating AI, and particularly the tech majors. These companies have all made substantial investments in AI, either through acquisitions or on in-house research.

The strategy paper said in this context: “The EU will continue to cooperate with global players on artificial intelligence based on an approach that promotes the EU’s interests (e.g. mainstreaming European standards, accessing key resources including data, creating a level playing field).”

However, the said paper is only a draft and may have changed. Meanwhile, Monday’s press briefing by Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s executive vice president for digital affairs, contains more clues.

Vestager’s press briefing

At a press briefing ahead of Wednesday’s announcement, Vestager hinted at the broad contours of the AI regulatory framework.

The strategy “will produce and deploy much more artificial intelligence” in Europe, but “it will not be the same” as in the U.S. and China, Vestager said. She said bluntly that Chinese AI might not meet European standards – based on what she understood of their practices. She made clear that the EU will counter the superiority of the US and China in AI on its own terms. However, there will be an emphasis on fundamental EU rights such as privacy and non-discrimination.

Vestager said that in the case of deployment of AI in high-risk applications, such as self-driving cars or biometric identification, the EU will ensure that the technology is transparent and has human oversight.

Regarding the vexed subject of remote facial recognition, Vestager said she wanted to start a debate to determine in what circumstances the technology should be deployed. Vestager did not rule out the possibility of an EU-wide legal framework to specifically govern facial recognition.

There may also be rules for the sharing of data between businesses and the government. The EU may itself have a treasure trove of high-quality data immensely suitable for machine learning and AI.

“We are what we eat and that also goes for artificial intelligence,” Vestager said. “If you eat crappy stuff, well you’re not likely to be a fit for purpose algorithm either.”

Related Story:  Artificial Intelligence: Google CEO Sundar Pichai Calls for “Sensible Regulation”

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