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Challenges in Regulating Artificial Intelligence

Top European and American officials met in Luleå, Sweden, to discuss tech and trade and address the challenges of regulating artificial intelligence (AI).

Challenges in Regulating Artificial Intelligence

They aimed to develop a voluntary "code of conduct" to prevent harm from AI, including generative AI technologies like OpenAI's ChatGPT and Google's Bard. Margrethe Vestager, Europe's digital commissioner, stressed the need for democracy to keep pace with technology. The discussions took place during the EU-U.S. Trade and Tech Council (TTC) summit, where transatlantic leaders discussed common approaches on various topics. However, both the U.S. and EU are increasingly concerned about the rise of AI and seek collaboration on addressing the issue.

Gina Raimondo, the U.S. commerce secretary, acknowledged that AI is advancing at an unprecedented pace, and regulatory bodies need time to catch up. The proposed voluntary code of conduct is currently a two-page briefing note produced by the European Commission. It aims to establish non-binding standards on transparency, risk audits, and other technical aspects for companies involved in AI development. The plan is to present the code to G7 leaders as a joint transatlantic proposal in the fall. The voluntary code is seen as a temporary measure until binding legislation on AI is in place, which is expected to take several years.

There is a significant divergence between the U.S. and EU regarding AI regulations. The EU is moving forward with mandatory rules for AI that would prohibit certain uses of the technology deemed "harmful." The EU's AI Act, expected to be finalized by the end of December, has faced challenges in political negotiations. However, European countries and members of the European Parliament have different opinions on aspects such as facial recognition in public places. The tech industry is also concerned about what it considers excessive oversight of generative AI.

In contrast, the U.S. prefers a more hands-off approach and relies on industry self-regulation. Political divisions within Congress make it unlikely for AI-specific legislation to pass before the next U.S. election. The Biden administration prioritizes international collaboration on AI and aims to support the competitiveness of major U.S.-based AI companies against Chinese rivals. The White House has engaged in discussions with industry leaders, encouraged voluntary rules, and promoted the risk-management framework developed by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology for international standard-setting.

To bridge the gap between the U.S. and EU, officials aim to build on global principles proposed by the OECD and address the specific challenges of generative AI. The proposed voluntary code of conduct seeks to provide clarity to companies on how generative AI will be regulated by the two economic blocs. However, it remains uncertain whether U.S. officials and companies will support this approach. Some officials in Brussels are exploring the possibility of frontloading certain rules within an "AI Pact," a separate voluntary pledge related to Europe's forthcoming AI Act.



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