The European Commission wants to more intensively regulate artificial intelligence in the European Union, to increase the level of trust in this technique, but also to encourage its wider use. Why?
First you have to know what artificial intelligence is? The term refers to computer programs that are able to “learn”, programs that are able to analyze huge amounts of data and thus, for example, to analyze the reactions and behavior of users. The algorithms of these programs react to the people who use them and transform themselves.
Today, artificial intelligence is used in medical technology, autonomous vehicles, recognizing people’s faces, but also in toys that “talk” to children and can react to their answers.
“We know that artificial intelligence is used in many business areas, in financial transactions and computer programs, but artificial intelligence can do much more than that, even in those areas where the digitization process is just beginning,” says Hans de Kank of the Center for Artificial Intelligence. at the Free University of Brussels. There is great potential in agriculture or medicine, Kank told Deutsche Welle: “During the covid crisis, we saw that artificial intelligence had a major impact on the rapid development of diagnostic and medical applications.”
Thanks to this development, artificial intelligence will enter more and more areas of our lives in the coming years. Not only Hans de Kank is convinced of that, but also the Vice President of the European Commission, Margrethe Vestager.
Trust and risks
For three years, officials from the Margrethe Vestager Commissariat worked on the market regulation of artificial intelligence – and last week they presented their proposals in Brussels. “We in the European Union must become a world class in terms of regulation, but also the application of artificial intelligence” – that is the goal proclaimed by Margrethe Vestager.
She pointed out the great advantages and opportunities that artificial intelligence offers in the new, digital world, and did not forget to add the following: “We create trust in artificial intelligence, and that is possible only if we are able to manage risks.”
The vast majority of applications that use artificial intelligence, such as e-mail filters for spam or machine management in factories, are not problematic at all, the European Commission states in its regulatory proposals.
But there are some areas of limited risk, such as chat bots that are used in large firms to help them communicate with customers. These customers should be clearly told to communicate with machines (which are able to learn) and not with humans.
Vestager described as extremely risky applications that evaluate people or should manage their behavior. In that group, which should be strictly regulated, there are autonomous vehicles or programs that select candidates who apply for a job, ie evaluate their biographies.
The computer will always choose a white man aged 35, because that has always been the case. That is why, our interlocutor adds, ethical and humane criteria should be “incorporated” into the programs.
In such situations, the European Commission requires “human supervision” over the algorithms. In critical areas, where both morality and decency play a role, algorithms must not decide for themselves, says Danish Commissioner Vestager.
The European Commission wants to completely ban the mass use of technology for mass identification of citizens in public places – with the help of artificial intelligence. The reason is that it is not in accordance with the EU provisions on personal data protection.
What should be allowed is the use of techniques for the individual identification of persons, for example persons at border controls or in the framework of criminal prosecution. The commission wants to ban so-called “smart toys”, which could lead children to do something dangerous. Learning software or so-called patient care robots that assist people in nursing homes, for example, should be allowed in the future.
Attracting AI to Europe
The European Union does not want to expel artificial intelligence providers from Europe, on the contrary, it wants to motivate them to be stationed in the EU, said the commissioner in charge of industrial policy, Thierry Breton.