‘A new era’ for Europe as EU AI Act agreed

11/12/2023

THE European Union has announced a new landmark EU AI Act, outlining rules and guidelines around the trustworthy use of artificial intelligence, including how to regulate AI systems such as ChatGPT.

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen described the agreement as a ‘historic moment’ and ‘a new era’ for European values, as Europe seeks to take a global AI lead.

The EU AI Act is the first AI-focused agreement, following years of European attempts to implement regulation.  

The Act sets a scale to determine the risk of AI from ‘unacceptable’, which outlines technology to be banned, to high, medium and low risk levels. In particular, generative AI was a major discussion throughout the negotiations given its widespread adoption over the past year.

The main points in the act revolve around generative AI tools such ChatGPT, trustworthy AI adoption, as well as facial recognition and fingerprint scanning systems.

Sridhar Iyengar, Managing Director at Zoho Europe, commented: “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. 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.”

John Kirk, Deputy CEO for Inspired Thinking Group, commented: “The EU AI Act represents an international commitment to improving the safe development of AI, helping to support industries such as marketing and MarTech. Emerging technologies are revolutionising the creative industries, specifically Generative AI which supports marketers in content creation, asset management and personalisation. AI and automation give marketers back time allowing them to focus on what they are good at, being creative. 

“It is great to see safety being prioritised however we hope the right balance is struck between regulations and innovation to ensure AI can be developed and used to its maximum potential.

Sheila Flavell CBE, Chief Operating Officer of FDM Group said: “The use of AI is not slowing down and this presents challenges to overcome to ensure businesses can use it successfully. It is great to see an international collaboration to support businesses and while there must be a focus on regulating and guidance, organisations should also focus on training and educating their staff in how to use this emerging piece of technology safely and effectively. 

“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 necessary knowledge. It will take a combined approach, focusing on regulating, educating and training and only then can the benefits be enjoyed.”

Claire Trachet, CEO/Founder of business advisory Trachet, commented: “Cyber security stands as the guardian amidst growing threats in the face of ever-advancing AI. It is encouraging to see the EU taking proactive measures amidst continuously evolving technology, once again proving its potential to be a global leader in the AI space.
 
The importance of cyber security extends far beyond a consideration, it is imperative in an evolving digital society. As we navigate an increasingly complex and interconnected world, the call to fortify our cyber defences resonates louder than ever. it is vital that the UK government follows the example set by the EU and channels a greater level of investment into cyber security to protect both UK businesses and democratic processes from potential interference.

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