Europe seeks to limit the use of artificial intelligence in society

The use of facial recognition for surveillance, or algorithms that manipulate human behaviour, will be banned under proposed EU regulations on artificial intelligence.

The wide-ranging proposals, which were leaked ahead of their official publication, also promised tough new rules for what they deem high-risk AI. That includes algorithms used by the police and in recruitment.

Experts said the rules were vague and contained loopholes. The use of AI in the military is exempt, as are systems used by authorities in order to safeguard public security.

The suggested list of banned AI systems includes:

• Those designed or used in a manner that manipulates human behaviour, opinions or decisions, causing a person to behave, form an opinion or make a decision to their detriment.

• AI systems used for indiscriminate surveillance applied in a generalised manner.

• AI systems used for social scoring.

• Those that exploit information or predictions or a person or group of persons to target their vulnerabilities.

For AI deemed to be high risk, member states would have to apply far more oversight, including the need to appoint assessment bodies to test, certify and inspect these systems.

And any companies that develop prohibited services, or fail to supply correct information about them, could face fines of up to 4% of their global revenue.

High-risk examples of AI include:

• Systems which establish priority in the dispatching of emergency services

• Systems determining access to or assigning people to educational institutes

• Recruitment algorithms

• Those that evaluate creditworthiness

• Those for making individual risk assessments

Crime-predicting algorithms

As well as requiring that new AI systems have human oversight, the EC is also proposing that high-risk AI systems have a so-called switch, which could either be a stop button or some other procedure to instantly turn the system off if needed.

With this legislation, the EC has had to walk a difficult line between ensuring AI is used as what it calls a ‘tool’ to increase human well-being, and also ensuring it doesn’t stop EU countries competing with the US and China over technological innovations.


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