Find out how MEPs are shaping EU artificial intelligence legislation in order to boost innovation while ensuring safety and protecting civil liberties.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a major part of the digital transformation. Indeed, it is hard to imagine life without the use of AI in many goods and services and it is set to bring more changes to the workplace, business, finance, health, security, farming and other fields. AI will also be crucial for the EU's green deal and the Covid-19 recovery.
The EU is currently preparing its first set of rules to manage the opprtunities and threats of AI, focusing on building trust in AI, including managing its potential impact on individuals, society and the economy. The new rules also aim to provide an environment in which European researchers, developers and businesses can thrive. The European Commission wants to boost private and public investment in AI technologies to €20 billion per year.
Parliament's work on AI legislation
Ahead of a Commission proposal on AI, expected in early 2021, the Parliament has set up a special committee to analyse the impact of artificial intelligence on the EU economy. "Europe needs to develop AI that is trustworthy, eliminates biases and discrimination, and serves the common good, while ensuring business and industry thrive and generate economic prosperity," said the new committee chair Dragoș Tudorache.
On 20 October 2020, Parliament adopted three reports outlining how the EU can best regulate AI while boosting innovation, ethical standards and trust in technology.
One of the reports focuses on how to ensure safety, transparency and accountability, prevent bias and discrimination, foster social and environmental responsibility, and ensure respect for fundamental rights. "The citizen is at the centre of this proposal," said author of the report Ibán García del Blanco (S&D, Spain).
Axel Voss (EPP, Germany) authored Parliament’s report on a civil liability regime for artificial intelligence. He explains the aim is to protect Europeans while also providing businesses with the legal certainty necessary to encourage innovation. "We're not pushing for revolution. There should be uniform rules for businesses, and existing law should be taken into account," he said.
Regarding intellectual property rights, Parliament stressed the importance of an effective system for further AI development, including the issue of patents and new creative processes. Among the issues to be resolved is the intellectual property ownership of something entirely developed by AI, said report author Stéphane Séjourné (Renew, France).
On 20 January 2021, Parliament proposed guidelines for military and non-military use of AI, especially in areas such as military, justice and health. "AI must never replace or relieve humans of their responsibility," said Gilles Lebreton (ID, France), the MEP in charge of the proposals. MEPs stressed the necessity of human oversight of AI systems used in defence and reiterated Parliament's call to ban AI-enabled autonomous lethal weapons.
Parliament is working on a number of other issues related to AI, including:
- AI in education, culture and the audio-visual sector (culture and education committee)
- The use of AI in criminal law (civil liberties committee)