Providers and users of artificial intelligence (AI) systems will face new regulation driven by the risk these systems pose to people under plans outlined by the European Commission. Some AI systems will be completely banned from sale or use in the EU.
According to the Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act), AI that poses an “unacceptable risk” to people will be banned. The proposal defines “unacceptable risk” as a set of particularly harmful uses of AI that contravene EU values because they violate fundamental rights (e.g., social scoring by governments, exploitation of children’s vulnerabilities, use of subliminal techniques, and – with limited exceptions – remote live biometric identification systems in publicly accessible spaces used for law enforcement)
The proposal then defines a limited number of AI systems as ‘high risk‘ because they negatively impact the security of individuals or their fundamental rights. Examples of “high risk” AI include that constitutes or is part of the machinery, medical devices, and vehicles used to manage critical infrastructures such as the management and operation of road traffic and the provision of water, gas, heating, and electricity, or for biometric identification and categorisation of people.
A new European Artificial Intelligence Council would be established under the draft AI Bill and tasked with producing opinions, recommendations and guidelines concerning the regulation. At the same time, the creation of national AI regulatory sandboxes is also envisaged to facilitate the development and testing of innovative AI systems under strict regulatory oversight before these systems are placed on the market or otherwise put into service.
The draft AI bill should also be seen in the broader context of the Commission’s digital transformation agenda. It follows the Commission’s comprehensive new Digital Strategy and the AI White Paper published in early 2020, exploring options for a reliable AI legislative framework and considered what further action might be needed to address security, liability, fundamental rights, and data issues. However, the Digital Strategy also includes other new EU laws, including the Digital Services Act, the Digital Markets Act and the Data Governance Act. It is, therefore, part of a much broader portfolio of reforms in the Digital Single Market.