The European Commissioner for Digital, Thierry Breton, and the boss of Google, Sundar Pichai, agreed on Wednesday to work on rules to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) with voluntary companies, pending new legislation in the European Union (EU).
“We have agreed that we cannot afford to wait for AI legislation to be implemented, and to work together with all AI developers to put in place a pact on a voluntary basis”, declared Thierry Breton after a meeting with Sundar Pichai in Brussels.
The EU wants to be the first in the world to adopt a comprehensive legal framework to limit the excesses of artificial intelligence.
Brussels proposed an ambitious draft regulation two years ago, but its examination by member states and the European Parliament is dragging on. If the text were to be adopted before the end of the year, it would come into force “at the earliest at the end of 2025”, explained Thierry Breton to AFP.
Of great technical complexity, artificial intelligence systems fascinate as much as they worry.
The general public discovered their immense potential late last year with the release of the editorial content generator ChatGPT, from the Californian company OpenAI, which can write original essays, poems or translations in seconds.
But the dissemination on social networks of false images, more real than life, created from applications like Midjourney, alerted to the risks of manipulation of opinion.
Future EU legislation builds on existing product safety regulations and will impose business-first controls.
The heart of the project consists of a list of rules imposed only on applications deemed to be “high risk” by the companies themselves based on the criteria of the legislator. For the EU executive, this would be all systems used in critical areas such as critical infrastructure, education, human resources, policing or migration management.
Among the obligations: provide for human control over the machine, the establishment of technical documentation, or even the establishment of a risk management system.
The Commission’s proposal, unveiled in April 2021, also provides a framework for AI systems that interact with humans. It will oblige them to inform the user that he is in contact with a machine and will force the applications generating images to specify that they were created artificially.
“Many things can be implemented without going through the law”, explained Thierry Breton, who wishes to work with all “the major European and non-European players” who wish to achieve regulation “before it becomes binding by law”.
This regulation would anticipate elements of the European project “and perhaps other elements, if they have other ideas to strengthen protection”, explained the commissioner.
He also alerted the boss of Google to “problems” observed with its subsidiary YouTube, which would disseminate pro-Russian disinformation, posing a risk of manipulation of the elections in Europe. Thierry Breton welcomed Sundar Pichai’s commitment to “intensify the fight against disinformation”.
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