The negotiators of the European institutions reached their third day of intense discussions yesterday, to close the artificial intelligence (AI) law, a pioneering rule in the world that aims to regulate this technology based on the danger that it can bring 'use, and the last fringes of which were still silhouetted late at night.
The European Commission proposed this law in 2021, when ChatGPT had not even been born and experts were not yet warning of its disruptive power. But the speed at which this technology advances made its regulation necessary, and this was a weighty reason for the negotiators of the Eurochamber and the governments, aware that not approving anything means the status quo, and right now there is nowhere its use can be delimited.
Precisely, the delimitation of how AI should be used is what has most complicated the negotiations, which were "passionate" due to the importance of what was being negotiated, said witnesses of the talks. Which system should be considered high risk? And prohibited? With what exceptions? And this has been key, especially the issue of biometric surveillance, facial recognition cameras in public spaces and using artificial intelligence in real time. While the Eurochamber wanted to delimit the use of facial recognition strictly, the States pushed for it to be used in some cases, such as in national security, and under judicial permission, an important issue for France. It was one of the points of friction, between stoppages and pauses by the Eurochamber negotiators, who were trying to find a balance with the countries' position, although the representatives of the Parliament are studying this possibility if safeguards were included.
Yes, both the Eurochamber and the States agreed that they could not accept systems that "score" citizens, (known as social scoring), which consists of AI tools giving points to a person's credibility or reputation according to their interactions on the internet or through a series of traits. These can even make predictions based on discrimination against minorities, a technology that is used massively in China.
Another of the issues that worried me the most was the regulation of foundational models, generative artificial intelligence, such as ChatGPT, Bard or the recent Gemini, and which the Eurochamber asked to be included in this law. Against all odds, it was one of the agreements reached at the first meeting on Thursday night. Both institutions agreed that it was necessary to meet transparency requirements, such as reporting when certain content has used this technology. It was important for countries to regulate and put order, for example, in the way these systems are used in the film industry and to avoid an avalanche of demands (or strikes, as was recently called off in Hollywood in which the use of artificial intelligence has been one of the main battlehorses).
At the negotiation table, it was also discussed how it can affect technologies that create a big impact, such as deepfakes. very realistic in which they look like people talking and it is very difficult to distinguish whether they are real or created by artificial intelligence, and in which institutions were studying how they should be indicated so that the public knows. As well as altered images, as in the case of minors who were victims of manipulated images in September in Almendralejo. In this case, the possibility of including some kind of brand was also negotiated.
Because it is a law that regulates a constantly evolving technology, and although it has the vocation to last over time, it will be allowed to introduce changes without having to reform the entire law from top to bottom. "It is a law that from day 1 must be prepared to last over time, it will not be perfect, but it foresees the possibility of revision. We want to provide legal certainty, because without legal certainty consumers will not trust artificial intelligence", assured sources of the negotiation.
The puzzle to reach an agreement was not only about closing technical aspects, although of great depth, it was also important to find a balance between the benefits of artificial intelligence and the economic impact, and not lose competitiveness to giants like China or the United States, which invest massively. While the European Union only represents 7% of annual investment, the United States and China together reach 80%. For this reason, both France and Germany insisted on the importance of this law not limiting competitiveness.