The European Union (EU) is set to introduce the world’s first comprehensive laws governing artificial intelligence technology with the EU AI Act. The law will include a clause requiring companies to disclose any copyrighted material used to develop their generative AI systems, such as the popular chatbot ChatGPT.
The AI Act was initially drafted almost two years ago by the European Commission, seeking to regulate emerging artificial intelligence technology, which became increasingly popular after the release of OpenAI’s AI-powered chatbot ChatGPT. The draft was recently approved by the European Parliament to proceed to the trilogue stage, during which EU lawmakers and member states will finalize the bill’s details.
Under the EU’s proposed law, AI tools will be categorized according to their perceived risk level, ranging from minimal to limited, high, and unacceptable. Areas of concern could include biometric surveillance, spreading misinformation, or discriminatory language. While high-risk tools will not be banned, companies using them will be required to operate with transparency.
Companies utilizing generative AI tools, such as ChatGPT or image generator Midjourney, will also have to reveal any copyrighted material they used to develop their systems, a clause added in the past two weeks. Initially, there was a proposal to ban copyrighted material being used to train generative AI models, but it was dropped in favor of a transparency requirement.
According to Svenja Hahn, a European Parliament deputy, the proposal was a “solid compromise that would regulate AI proportionately, protect citizens’ rights, as well as foster innovation and boost the economy.” Fred Havemeyer, a Macquarie analyst, said the EU’s proposal was “tactful” rather than a “ban first, and ask questions later” approach proposed by some.
Last year, Microsoft-backed OpenAI unveiled ChatGPT, which became the fastest-growing consumer application in history, reaching 100 million monthly active users in just weeks. The release of ChatGPT led to a race among tech companies to bring generative AI products to market, raising concerns among some, with Elon Musk backing a proposal to halt development of such systems for six months. Shortly after signing the letter, the Financial Times reported Musk was planning to launch his own startup to rival OpenAI.
As the EU AI Act goes through the trilogue stage, it remains to be seen how the final bill will take shape. Still, it’s clear that the EU is taking a proactive stance on regulating AI technology, seeking to balance innovation with protecting citizens’ rights. The generative AI regulation is only a part of the comprehensive AI Act, but it could pave the way for further regulation of the rapidly-evolving AI field.