AI rules in the EU, USA and China
The EU has been discussing a draft regulatory framework for some time, and looks to be ahead of the game in delivering a first-of-its kind AI Act: the draft has been described as the world’s strictest set of AI rules, and may yet be amended. Are they going too far, too fast? In June, 150 Europe’s biggest companies (including Airbus, Siemens, Renault and Heineken) wrote to the European Commission warning that the law could affect the bloc’s economy if it prevented businesses from being able to freely use AI technology. They said the new rules risked harming competitiveness while actually failing to deal with potential challenges. The worst of both worlds, in other words.
While the EU seems to be jumping ahead, is the USA now playing catch up? On 21st July, major tech players and leading lights in AI such as Amazon, Google, Meta, Microsoft and OPenAI announced new safeguards. The Guardian newspaper reported that the White House had “secured voluntary commitments from seven US companies meant to ensure their AI products are safe before they release them.” These measures include watermarks for AI content to make identification easier, third-party testing in an attempt to find dangerous flaws, investing in new cyber security measures, and prioritising research on AI’s societal risks.
Also in July, China announced its interim “rules” for regenerative AI to manage the country’s booming industry. Notably, Beijing said regulators would seek to “support” development of the technology while ensuring security. Analysts were quick to point out that the measures announced were significantly less onerous than those contained in an earlier draft.
In such a fast-developing field, these approaches will all suffer, to varying degrees, from trying to legislate for technology and applications that don’t currently exist, and may not even have been conceived yet. And unless we take a global approach, the reality is that rogue states or groups may refine their capabilities faster and jump further ahead. Mission: Impossible’s “entity” gets more real by the day? Planet-wide solutions are already being suggested, such as a United Nations type body similar to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for nuclear weapons. But there’s no consensus.