Europe pitches ‘AI Pact’ to curtail the booming tech’s risks

Europe has a new plan to get ahead of dangerous artificial intelligence: an “AI Pact.”;

The boom of generative artificial intelligence tools like chatbot ChatGPT has triggered a global scramble of regulators trying to keep the technology under control. In meetings with industry leaders this week, and with global peers over the past months, the European Union – the western world’s de facto digital policeman – has been quietly supporting a global pledge to responsibly build and use these new tools .

“We are in the middle of things,” Margrethe Vestager, the commission’s executive vice-president responsible for digital affairs, told reporters this week. “And when we’re in the middle of things, we see generative AI and larger language models developing really fast.”

At a meeting of G7 countries this past weekend in Hiroshima, Japan, leaders called for “advancing international discussions on inclusive artificial intelligence (AI) governance and interoperability to achieve our common vision and goal of trusted AI”. Took the resolution of Next week, European and United States leaders will back that pledge, calling for an assessment of “accidental behavior and risks” of AI like ChatGPT, according to a draft statement for their upcoming Business and Technology Council (TTC) seen by POLITICO. will resonate.

The European Commission has already proposed artificial intelligence act – Establishing binding rules on restricted and “high-risk” AI applications – in 2021, but the law is still under review by lawmakers and EU countries and is expected to come into force two years from now. EU officials are now trying to shape a voluntary AI agreement – ​​one that would see companies like Microsoft, Google and OpenAI agree to non-binding principles around transparency and accountability – to address the rapidly evolving technology. as a stopgap solution for

Already, top EU officials have found common ground with industry giants.

The rush to control AI threats has drawn leading industry executives to Brussels, other European capitals and even Washington this week. The goal is to demonstrate that the industry is open to regulation – as long as it is not too onerous.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai was in Brussels on Wednesday for a series of AI-focused talks with policymakers, including the great and the good from the Commission and the European Parliament. The Indian engineer’s pitch was simple: The search giant wants to be a responsible developer of AI, and it welcomes more protections, but Europe’s AI Act could prevent the industry from using the technology for good.

Pichai’s meeting with Vestager and Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton triggered statements from the top ranks of the Berlemont building surrounding the so-called AI Pact. In fact, those words are still premature, as Vestager secured a tentative agreement last month during a G7 digital meeting on generative AI to be held in Japan sometime later this year. Will work on the problems, currently chairing the G7. ,

While Pichai was traveling in Europe, OpenAI head Sam Altman traveled to Spain, France, Poland and the United Kingdom, meeting with national leaders Pedro Sánchez, Emmanuel Macron, Mateusz Morawiecki and Rishi Sunak, as well as key ministers . His own version of AI rule-making – one that borrowed heavily from testimony he gave to the US Senate earlier in the month.

Altman’s pitch was completely different and similar to Pichai’s.

ahead of his tour, he called upon to establish A global organization – modeled after the International Atomic Energy Agency – to address the existential risks posed by smarter-than-human AI. Altman said the current AI model does not need to be regulated very strictly – a direct attack on Europe’s own AI proposals.

next reports that Altman was considering taking ChatGPT out of the EU, he backtracked on Friday, saying that “we plan to comply [with EU rules], I really want to serve in Europe. We just want to make sure that we are technically competent. And I think the conversation this week has been highly productive.”

In Washington, Microsoft President Brad Smith made a similar pitch to lawmakers in an effort to get ahead of any potential regulations coming from the US Capitol. The tech giant, which has invested heavily in OpenAI, is hoping to use generative AI to take on Google’s dominance in search.

Speaking before a group of DC lawmakers, he urged more regulation on this fast-advancing technology, including cyber security checks for critical infrastructure and a licensing regime for AI models.

“I’m not even sure we’re in the car,” Smith told reporters after dismissing the notion that Microsoft was in the driver’s seat on how the technology was developing. “But we offer viewpoints and suggested directions for those actually driving.”

Laura Kyali, Mark Scott and Aoife White contributed reportingYes.