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Europe one step away from groundbreaking AI laws following legislators' vote

AI Artificial intelligence words, miniature of robot and EU flag are displayed in this picture shot December 21, 2023

STRASBOURG, March 13 (mod1s) - Europe came closer to implementing the world's first artificial intelligence laws on Wednesday as EU legislators supported a tentative accord for a technology whose usage is quickly spreading across a broad swathe of sectors and in daily life. 

Three years in the process, the AI Act comes as generative AI systems like as Microsoft-backed (MSFT.O), opens new tab OpenAI's ChatGPT, and Google's (GOOGL.O), opens new tab chatbot Gemini grow increasingly popular, raising worries about disinformation and false news.

The legislation would govern high-impact, general-purpose AI models and high-risk AI systems which will have to conform with special transparency responsibilities and EU copyright rules. 

It confines governments' use of real-time biometric monitoring in public settings to instances of specified crimes, prevention of true threats, such as terrorist attacks, and searches for those accused of the most severe offenses.

"I appreciate the overwhelming support from the European Parliament for the EU AI Act, the world's first comprehensive, enforceable framework for trustworthy AI. Europe is becoming a worldwide standard-setter in trustworthy AI," EU industry head Thierry Breton said. 

A total of 523 EU parliamentarians voted in support of the accord while 46 were against and 49 abstained. 

EU nations are scheduled to give their official support to the pact in May, with the law anticipated to come into effect early next year and apply in 2026 but some of the rules would kick in sooner.

Brussels may have set the norm for the rest of the globe, said Patrick Van Eecke, a partner at legal firm Cooley. 

"The European Union now has the world's first hard coded AI legislation. Other nations and regions are likely to utilize the AI Act as a model, just as they did with the GDPR," he added, referring to the EU privacy policy. 

However, he noted the negative for corporations is enormous red tape.

The European Parliament and EU members had struck a preliminary accord in December following over 40 hours of discussions. 

Companies risk penalties ranging from 7.5 million euros or 1.5% of sales to 35 million euros or 7% of worldwide revenue depending on the kind of infractions. 

Lobbying organization BusinessEurope highlighted worries about how the restrictions would be applied. 

"The need for extensive secondary legislation and guidelines raises significant questions about legal certainty and the law's interpretation in practice, which are crucial for investment decisions," its director general Markus J. Beyrer stated. 

A representative for Amazon, which has started rolling out a new AI assistant, applauded the vote: "We are committed to collaborating with the EU and industry to support the safe, secure, and responsible development of AI technology." 

Meta Platforms (META.O), opens new tab advised against any actions that may hinder innovation.
"It is critical we don't lose sight of AI's huge potential to foster European innovation and enable competition, and openness is key here," said Marco Pancini, Meta's director of EU relations.


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