European Commission publishes proposal for regulating AI

The European Commission has published the anticipated proposal for a regulation on artificial intelligence (AI), outlining a series of draft rules meant to promote trustworthy AI across the EU. The draft legislation – to be applied directly in all EU member states once approved – takes a risk-based approach to the regulation of AI. Thus, AI systems considered to be a clear threat to the safety and rights of individuals (such as those that manipulate human behaviour to circumvent free will, and government-led social scoring systems) are proposed to be banned. Then, high-risk AI systems would have to comply with strict obligations before being put on the market, ranging from risk assessment and mitigation systems, to appropriate human oversight, and high levels of robustness, security, and accuracy. Such systems include those used, for instance, in administration of justice and democratic processes; in migration, asylum, and border control; in law enforcement, when they may interfere with human rights; or in critical infrastructures, when they could pose risks to human life and health. Moreover, the use of real-time remote biometric identification systems in public spaces by law enforcement would be banned, unless strictly necessary to (a) search for specific potential victims of crime (e.g. missing children); (b) prevent terrorist attacks or other substantial and imminent threat to the life of physical safety of individuals; or (c) detect, localise, identity, of prosecute a perpetrator or suspect of a serious criminal offence. The proposed rules are to apply to all providers that place AI systems on the EU market, irrespective of whether they are established within the EU or not. The enforcement of the rules would fall within the responsibility of national market surveillance authority, while a new European AI Board would be tasked with facilitating their implementation and driving the development of AI standards. The draft regulation was also accompanied by an updated Coordinated Plan on AI, outlining actions to be implemented by member states in areas such as establishing enabling conditions for AI development, fostering AI excellence, and ensuring that AI is a force for good in society. Another proposal put forward by the Commission is a new Machinery Regulation (replacing the 2006 Machinery Directive), aimed, among other elements, to ensure the safe integration of AI systems into overall machineries.