- AI bill passes crucial vote of key EU legislators
- Historical laws would keep ChatGPT and other tools in check
- Vote in the European Parliament expected in June
BRUSSELS, May 11 (Reuters) – European lawmakers moved one step closer to passing new rules regulating artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT, following a core vote on Thursday where they agreed on tougher draft legislation.
The European Union’s long-awaited AI law appears to be the world’s first comprehensive piece of legislation regulating the technology, with new rules surrounding the use of facial recognition, biometric surveillance and other AI applications.
After two years of negotiations, the bill is now expected to move on to the next stage of the process, with lawmakers finalizing the details with the European Commission and individual member states.
Dragos Tudorache, one of the parliamentarians (members of the European Parliament) charged with drafting the laws, said ahead of the vote by two lawmakers’ committees: “It’s a delicate deal. But it’s a package that I think will deliver for everyone who took part in these negotiations.”
“Our societies expect us to do something determined about artificial intelligence and the impact it has on their lives. It’s enough to turn on the TV … in the last two or three months, and every day you see how important this becomes for citizens.”
Under the proposals, AI tools will be classified according to their perceived level of risk, from low to unacceptable. Governments and companies using these tools have different obligations depending on the level of risk.
German MEP Svenja Hahn told Reuters the negotiations had forced conservative and left-wing MEPs to meet halfway. “We managed to find a compromise that would regulate AI proportionately, protect civil rights and stimulate innovation and the economy,” she said.
In Thursday morning’s vote, MEPs agreed to ban the use of facial recognition in public spaces, predictive policing tools, and impose new transparency measures on generative AI applications such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
“This vote is a milestone in regulating AI, and a clear signal from parliament that fundamental rights should be a cornerstone of it,” Green MEP Kim van Sparrentak told Reuters. “AI should serve people, society and the environment, not the other way around.”
The bill will be submitted to a plenary vote of the European Parliament in June before final terms are agreed in “trialoguetalks with representatives of the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission.
After the terms are finalized and the bill becomes law, there would be a grace period of about two years to allow affected parties to comply with the regulations.
“The European Parliament must enter the trilogue in the strongest position possible to protect the rights of all people within and entering the EU,” said Caterina Rodelli, EU policy analyst at non-profit organization Access Now.
Report by Foo Yun Chee and Bart Meijer; Edited by Alison Williams