The EU AI Act is undoubtedly the most discussed piece of legislation currently in development. Other governmental bodies are closely following suit. However, the success of GDPR has set a precedent with its positive impact on society, and therefore, much is expected from this forthcoming legislation.
In this article I will try to provide answers to the most frequently asked questions on this upcoming legislation.
About the EU AI Act
What is the EU AI Act?
The ultimate goal of the proposed EU AI Act is to establish a legal framework for trustworthy AI that can be a tool for the benefit of society and human well-being. It aims to ensure that AI technologies are used safely, in compliance with the law and fundamental rights, and in a way that promotes the values of the European Union. The proposed Regulation aims to establish harmonized rules on artificial intelligence (AI) in order to promote the benefits of AI while addressing the potential risks and negative consequences associated with its use.
Why is the EU AI Act being proposed?
The proposed Regulation is a response to the fast-evolving nature of AI technologies and the need to balance the potential benefits with the risks they present. It is also a result of political commitments and requests from the European Parliament and the European Council for legislative action on AI.
What are the main objectives of the proposed EU AI Act?
The proposed Regulation has the following objectives: ensuring the safety and compliance of AI systems with existing law and fundamental rights, providing legal certainty for investment and innovation in AI, enhancing governance and enforcement of fundamental rights and safety requirements, and facilitating the development of a single market for lawful, safe, and trustworthy AI applications.
Is the EU AI Act law?
No, at the time of this article, the EU AI Act is a proposed regulation and not yet law. It is part of the legislative process and has been put forward by the European Commission as a proposal for harmonised rules on artificial intelligence. The proposal will go through further discussions, amendments, and approvals by the European Parliament and the European Council before it can be adopted as law.
Who does the EU AI Act apply to?
The EU AI Act is proposed to apply to all individuals, businesses, and organizations that develop, place on the market, or use artificial intelligence (AI) systems within the European Union (EU). It is designed to establish harmonized rules for AI to create a level playing field and ensure the safety, compliance, and ethical use of AI systems across the EU market.
Similar to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU AI Act has extraterritorial reach. This means that it can apply to entities and activities outside of the EU if they have a significant impact on individuals or if they offer AI systems or services that are used within the EU market. The specific details regarding the extraterritorial applicability will be outlined in the final version of the regulation, considering the potential impact and reach of AI systems beyond the EU borders.
When will the EU Act be enforced and what is the timeline for implementation?
There are no official timelines stated by the EU Parliament, however since its a priority for the current EU Chief Ursula Von der Leyen, a lot of priority has been given to it to be in effect during her tenure which ends in 2024. So the current estimate is that it will be approved by the parliament by end of 2023 and the implementation timeline is expected to be 2 years based on the experience with GDPR implementation. So the first
Each member state needs to be setup local governance bodies to govern AI systems, frameworks need to evolve and a whole ecosystem needs to be created to support this legislation.
Co-existence with existing acts like GDPR
As Dr. Gabriella Zanfir Fortuna who is my favourite person to follow to stay up to date on topics like data privacy keeps emphasising, a new law or piece of legislation does attract a lot of attention. However even existing laws like GDPR could be used to regulate many of the aspects of AI. So lets see the relationship of the newly proposed legislation with existing laws like GDPR.