On December 11th, the European Union (EU) announced the groundbreaking EU AI Act, setting forth guidelines for the ethical use of artificial intelligence (AI). The regulation includes rules for AI systems such as ChatGPT. President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, described the consensus as "a historic moment and a new era for European values", reinforcing the EU's ambition to spearhead global AI regulation.
The EU AI Act, the first of its kind, comes after several attempts by European authorities to institute governance over AI technologies. The Act establishes a risk scale for AI systems, ranging from 'unacceptable', defining technologies that should be banned, to high, medium and low-risk levels. A key point of deliberation throughout the negotiations was generative AI, considering its significant adoption over the past year.
The Act primarily focuses on generative AI tools like ChatGPT and adopting trustworthy AI. It also addresses biometric systems such as facial recognition and fingerprint scanning. Industry response to the Act has been largely positive, with experts maintaining hopeful scepticism.
Sridhar Iyengar, Managing Director at Zoho Europe, comments: "The EU AI Act acts as a huge milestone in the development of this emerging technology. While guidance is needed and welcomed, regulators must also be careful not to stifle innovation."
"Artificial Intelligence is becoming increasingly integrated into business processes, offering benefits to aid fraud detection, forecasting, sentiment analysis, deep analysis of data and more. However, it's crucial to manage the use of AI responsibly, with effective guardrails in place to mitigate risks."
"As governments work on guidance and regulations, including the newly announced AI Act, businesses should prioritise developing their own policies which go further to protect themselves and their customers. This will enable organisations to have more agility to react to market trends and serve their customers effectively, all while maintaining a high level of trust around how data is collected, stored and used, for example," Iyengar said.
Iyengar thinks It will be interesting to see how regulation develops further through a global and collaborative approach to support businesses. "Academia, government, industry experts and businesses must continue to work together to educate and to ensure the safe and successful deployment of AI to potentially deliver significant economic benefit," he said.
John Kirk, Deputy CEO of Inspired Thinking Group, believes the Act represents an international dedication to enhancing AI's safe development. He remarked, "Emerging technologies are revolutionising the creative industries, specifically generative AI, which supports marketers in content creation, asset management and personalisation." However, he added a cautious note, hoping the "right balance is struck between regulations and innovation."
Sheila Flavell, CBE, Chief Operating Officer of FDM Group, affirmed AI's ongoing advancement, suggesting a dual focus on regulation and staff education. She stated, "Industries currently lack the manpower to maximise the potential of AI, and we must now focus on ensuring our workforces have access to the resources needed to gain the necessary knowledge. It will take a combined approach, focusing on regulating, educating and training, and only then can the benefits be enjoyed."
The unique blend of excitement and cautious optimism around the Act is a testimony to AI's powerful potential. As industry leaders align to seal the future of trustworthy AI in Europe and globally, the next chapter of the technological revolution awaits unfolding.