The Artificial Intelligence Act

What is the EU AI Act?

The AI Act is a proposed European law on artificial intelligence (AI) – the first comprehensive law on AI by a major regulator anywhere. The law assigns applications of AI to three risk categories. First, applications and systems that create an unacceptable risk, such as government-run social scoring of the type used in China, are banned. Second, high-risk applications, such as a CV-scanning tool that ranks job applicants, are subject to specific legal requirements. Lastly, applications not explicitly banned or listed as high-risk are largely left unregulated.

Why should you care?

AI applications influence what information you see online by predicting what content is engaging to you, capture and analyse data from faces to enforce laws or personalise advertisements, and are used to diagnose and treat cancer. In other words, AI affects many parts of your life.

Like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, the EU AI Act could become a global standard, determining to what extent AI has a positive rather than negative effect on your life wherever you may be. The EU’s AI regulation is already making waves internationally. In late September 2021, Brazil’s Congress passed a bill that creates a legal framework for artificial intelligence. It still needs to pass the country’s Senate. 

How can it be improved?

There are several loopholes and exceptions in the proposed law. These shortcomings limit the Act’s ability to ensure that AI remains a force for good in your life. Currently, for example, facial recognition by the police is banned unless the images are captured with a delay or the technology is being used to find missing children.

In addition, the law is inflexible. If in two years’ time a dangerous AI application is used in an unforeseen sector, the law provides no mechanism to label it as “high-risk”. For more detailed analyses, please see this page.