Europe sets benchmark for rest of the world with landmark AI laws

By Thomson Reuters May 21, 2024 | 3:31 AM

By Foo Yun Chee and Tassilo Hummel

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -Europe’s landmark rules on artificial intelligence will enter into force next month after EU countries endorsed on Tuesday a political deal reached in December, setting a potential global benchmark on guardrails for a technology used in almost every facet of life and business.

The AI Act is more comprehensive than the United States’ light-touch voluntary compliance approach while China’s approach aims to maintain social stability and state control.

The vote by European Union countries came two months after EU lawmakers backed the AI legislation drafted by the European Commission in 2021 after making a number of key changes.

Concerns about AI contributing to misinformation, fake news and copyrighted material have intensified globally in recent months amid the growing popularity of generative AI systems such as Microsoft-backed OpenAI’s ChatGPT, and Google’s chatbot Gemini.

“This landmark law, the first of its kind in the world, addresses a global technological challenge that also creates opportunities for our societies and economies,” Belgian digitisation minister Mathieu Michel said in a statement.

“With the AI act, Europe emphasizes the importance of trust, transparency and accountability when dealing with new technologies while at the same time ensuring this fast-changing technology can flourish and boost European innovation,” he said.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Tassilo Hummel and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)