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EU Parliament Approves AI Act: Europe Moves to Dominate Global Chip Race

Last Updated March 13, 2024 1:38 PM
Giuseppe Ciccomascolo
Last Updated March 13, 2024 1:38 PM
Key Takeaways
  • The European Union has passed the world’s first comprehensive AI regulation.
  • The “AI Act” takes a risk-based approach, with stricter requirements for high-risk systems like ChatGPT.
  • This regulation may position Europe as a leader in attracting AI investments.

On Wednesday, March 13, 2024, the European Parliament granted final approval  to comprehensive EU regulations  governing artificial intelligence (AI), encompassing robust systems such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

These rules, initially proposed in 2021, are designed to safeguard  citizens against potential risks associated with rapidly evolving technology, while simultaneously promoting innovation across the continent.

The Final Vote

Brussels has swiftly moved to enact the new law following the emergence of OpenAI’s Microsoft Corp-backed ChatGPT in late 2022, triggering a global AI race.

The excitement surrounding generative AI surged as ChatGPT showcased its human-like capabilities, ranging from processing complex text to generating poems within seconds or even passing medical exams.

Other notable generative AI models include DALL-E and Midjourney, which specialize in producing images, while some models can generate sounds from simple language inputs. The comprehensive regulation garnered support from 523 lawmakers in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, with only 46 voting against it. The EU’s 27 member States are anticipated to endorse the text in April before it is published in the EU’s Official Journal in May or June.

Under the rules outlined in the “AI Act,” regulations for AI models like ChatGPT will come into effect 12 months after the law is officially adopted, while companies must comply with most other provisions within two years. The EU’s approach in the “AI Act” is risk-based, meaning that the stricter the requirements are for systems deemed riskier, with outright bans on AI tools considered to pose the greatest threats.

For instance, high-risk AI providers are required to conduct risk assessments and ensure their products comply with the law before making them available to the public.

What’s EU AI Act?

With this new law, the European Commission establishes a registry of AI models identified as posing a ‘systemic risk.’ Additionally, providers of general-purpose AIs will be required to disclose comprehensive summaries detailing the content used in their training processes.

The legislation includes exemptions for free and open-source AI licenses from regulatory oversight in most cases, with exceptions for instances deemed high-risk or associated with prohibited purposes.

However, discussions regarding terms related to challenges associated with AI use in biometric surveillance and the accessibility of source code ended positively.

Initially hailed as the world’s first comprehensive AI regulations, showcasing the EU’s leadership in overseeing the tech industry, the process has faced delays exacerbated by a late-stage conflict over governing systems fundamental to general-purpose AI services, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard chatbot.

EU Attracts AI Investments

Thanks in part to Europe’s stance on AI, the Old Continent is attracting massive investments from tech giants. For example, last week, South Korean chip manufacturer Silicon Box said  it will construct an advanced manufacturing plant in Northern Italy, marking a significant investment of €3.2 billion. This move aims to strengthen Italy and the European Union’s position in the vital semiconductor sector.

Furthermore, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni unveiled a €1 billion investment fund on March 12, 2024, to support artificial intelligence projects. Meloni emphasized the importance of establishing ethical guidelines for AI technology’s use and intends for the fund, comprising both new and existing funds, to serve as seed capital to attract additional investments, fostering an “Italian approach” to AI development.

In France, Microsoft has partnered with Mistral, a Paris-based AI startup, to expand its presence in the rapidly growing industry. The “multiyear partnership,” announced by Mistral, aims to support the company in bringing its AI models to market.

Meanwhile, ASML, the Dutch chip giant, has expressed hesitance to expand further within the Netherlands due to challenges in attracting foreign talent. Reports suggest ASML is considering relocating to France, highlighting the need for policy reforms to maintain an environment conducive to technological innovation and international talent retention.

It’s relevant to note Tesla’s significant production plant in Berlin, Germany, which underlines the company’s substantial presence in Europe’s industrial landscape.

Expert Praises Italy’s Move On AI

Franco Turconi, Head of Health & Public Service at Accenture Italia, told CCN: “Artificial intelligence represents one of the most relevant challenges of our time and it is crucial that Italy positions itself strategically. Of the three fundamental ingredients for the adoption of AI – infrastructures, technologies, and knowledge -, the latter is the one that represents the most interesting opportunity for our country due to the enormous potential that universities, research centers, observatories, and institutions can play.”

“According to our recent studies, only in the public sector, AI will “create” at least 35,000 new jobs. Furthermore, the implementation of the PNRR will contribute to creating an environment favorable to innovation and the use of new technologies, making citizens’ experience always more effective, rapid, personalized and inclusive. In this framework, a continuous exchange of experiences between public and private like the one we witnessed today is vital to promote a virtuous and responsible development of artificial intelligence”.

The Accenture executive added: “We are ready to do our part by making available to the national ecosystem a network of 3,000 professionals specialized in public administration services and a vast network of innovation centers, from the North to the South of the country, including the AGIC in Rome, which hosts the new GenAI Studio designed to help public organizations reinvent themselves through generative artificial intelligence.”

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