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European lawmakers look to rein in harmful effects of AI

With a growing unease over the rapid rise of artificial intelligence, European lawmakers are increasingly strategizing ways to way in these platforms. 

Early last week, European lawmakers issued a joint statement urging President Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to convene a summit to find ways to control the development of advanced AI systems such as ChatGPT they say are developing faster than anticipated. 

Flags of European Union

Flags of Europe as seen waving on a pole. (Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The 12 MEPs contrasted their message with an open letter from Twitter CEO Elon Musk and other technology figures which called for a six-month pause on AI development and wanted that machines could “outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace” humans if left unchecked. 

The MEPs said they disagreed with the letter’s “more alarmist statements,” but agreed with its core message: “with the rapid evolution of powerful AI, we wee the need for significant political action.” 

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Their letter urged democratic and “non-democratic” countries to reflect on potential systems of governance, and to exercise restraint in their pursuit of very powerful AI. 

The EU, meanwhile, is closing in on a finished draft of the Artificial Intelligence Act, a landmark piece of legislation meant to regulate AI’s capacity to do harm. 

A key committee vote on the bill was scheduled for this coming Wednesday, but was postponed after last week’s meeting to discuss disruptions caused by the release of ChatGPT last November. 

GERMANY A.I. Midjourney

The website of Midjourney, an artificial intelligence capable of creating AI art, is seen on a smartphone on April 3, 2023, in Berlin. (Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)

The bill will likely not be enacted until next year. EU legislator and AI. Act co-sponsor Dragos Tudorache told Yahoo News the legislation “brings new powers to regulators to deal with AI applications.” 

It also expands lawmakers’ capacity for handing out fines and measuring the risk of controversial AI activities like “social scoring.” 

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“It’s a wake-up call in Europe,” Tudorache said. “We have to discern very clearly what is going on and how to frame the rules.” 

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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