The European bill takes a “risk-based” approach to regulating AI, focusing on applications that are most harmful to humans. This would include where AI systems are used in the legal system to run critical infrastructure such as water or energy, and when determining access to public services and government benefits. Manufacturers of the technology must conduct a risk assessment, similar to the drug approval process, before putting the technology into routine use.
The Computing and Communications Industry Association, a tech industry group, said the EU should avoid overbroad regulations that stifle innovation.
“The EU will be a leader in regulating AI, but it remains to be seen whether it will lead in AI innovation,” said Boniface de Champris, the group’s European policy manager. “Europe’s new AI rules need to effectively address well-defined risks, while providing developers with enough flexibility to deliver useful AI applications for the benefit of all Europeans.”
A major area of contention is the use of facial recognition. The European Parliament voted to ban the use of real-time facial recognition, but questions remain about whether exemptions should be allowed for national security and other law enforcement purposes.
Another rule would prohibit companies from scraping biometric data from social media to build databases, a practice that has drawn scrutiny after facial recognition company Clearview AI used it.
Tech leaders have been trying to influence the debate. Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, has visited at least 100 U.S. lawmakers and other global policymakers in South America, Europe, Africa and Asia in recent months, including European Commission President Ursula Ursula. Mr von der Leyen Altmann has called for regulation of AI, but also said the EU’s proposals could be difficult to comply with.
After Wednesday’s vote, representatives of the EU’s three branches – the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union – will negotiate the final version of the law. Officials said they hoped to reach a final agreement by the end of the year.