First Steps in Regulating AI

15th May 2023

Posted In: Newsflash

“Ground-breaking” new legislation to regulate artificial intelligence passed the first hurdle on its way to becoming EU law last week, according to Deirdre Clune MEP – a lead negotiator on the EU AI Act.

“The EU AI Act will set a global gold standard for the regulation of the development and deployment of artificial intelligence, as the first ever AI regulation in the world.

“The recent vote paves the way for a European Parliament plenary vote in June”, she said following a joint vote by the Internal Market and Civil Liberties committees in Strasbourg on Thursday, May 11th.

Commenting on the move, Geraldine Magnier, Co-founder and Director of Idiro Analytics and Idiro’s AI Ethics Centre said: “This vote is a milestone in regulating AI. I welcome this move as it is about time to see progress on the front of the AI Act. Idiro Analytics’ AI Ethics Centre has been advocating for the responsible use of AI for quite some time. As part of our work, we foster conversations among industry, academia, and government to work towards ensuring that such a powerful technology as AI is used for the right purposes.”

Ireland South MEP, Deirdre Clune

Ireland South MEP, Deirdre Clune shares this need for openness and transparency and acknowledges that the EU wants to protect fundamental rights throughout AI systems and ensure that human oversight is built into their development and deployment.

“The Act recognises the potential benefits of AI for economic growth and innovation but creates a strong regulatory framework particularly around high-risk AI systems, requiring more transparency, accountability, and the fair provision of clear information to users. Any AI system that presents an unacceptable risk will be prohibited here”, she said.

However, legislating for the use of such fast-moving technology is extremely challenging according to the Fine Gael MEP:

“One key aspect of the EU AI Act is the need for guardrails on especially powerful AI systems, such as Chat GPT, and other foundation models used for generative AI.

“These systems were not even fully in use when the Act was first drafted. In negotiating these new rules on behalf of the EPP Group, I was clear that foundation models such as Chat GPT must be addressed. I am delighted that we have succeeded in covering these powerful models in the final text,” she added.

Industry expert Geraldine Magnier sees AI as “a blank canvas that is neither inherently good nor bad; it is what we make of it”.

“We can make mistakes and amplify the existing disparities in our societies, or we can eliminate them once and for all. We are standing at a historical moment where our actions can improve the world, ensuring equity for everyone, and this AI Act is the first step towards that goal.”

Geraldine Magnier, Co-founder and Director, Idiro Analytics and Idiro’s AI Ethics Centre

As a board member of Technology Ireland, Geraldine has witnessed, firsthand, the great potential this technology can have on businesses, especially SMEs. AI can help small indigenous businesses stay competitive in this ever-evolving space.

Geraldine remains cautious though:

“Still, we must encourage these businesses not to fear such technology but to use it wisely and with care.”

According to Deirdre Clune MEP, AI models have the potential to revolutionise many areas of life, but also pose significant risks. “They must be subject to proper scrutiny and oversight to prevent any harm to individuals or society as a whole,” she stated.

“We also expect AI systems and material produced by AI to be clearly identifiable as such. Europeans have a right to know when they are seeing, reading, or hearing something that has been made by AI – we insist on that.

“Developers of these models need to share information about the development and training of these models to other providers of the technology, so any risks can be addressed. Even stricter criteria will be applied to higher-risk uses”, she confirmed.

Given the rate of progress of development in AI, one thing is certain – There is an urgency that this technology be regulated to ensure that it is developed in a human-centric and transparent way.

“The decisions taken by the EU are a welcome and overdue step in that direction,” Geraldine concluded.