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The new EU AI law could affect the whole world 

The far-reaching AI legislation is the latest example of the EU's role as a global digital policy-setter.

The AI ​​Act was approved by the European Parliament with a large majority. Credit: The Science website, via DALEE
The AI ​​Act was approved by the European Parliament with a large majority. Credit: The Science website, via DALEE

Last week, the European Parliament overwhelmingly approved the Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act), a step that indicates a large-scale effort to deal with the challenges and risks associated with this technology. The law divides the uses of artificial intelligence into categories according to the levels of risk they represent and imposes significant requirements on suppliers of artificial intelligence tools. The Commissioner of Internal Markets of the Union, Thierry Breton, declared that "Europe is now the global standard-setter in the reliability of artificial intelligence".

This is a wide-ranging legislation aimed at dealing with the risks associated with the rapidly developing technology. The law establishes an absolute ban on certain uses of artificial intelligence and defines them as unacceptable because of the risks to the safety, livelihood and rights of EU citizens (for example, cognitive behavioral manipulation, social ranking or biometric identification).

The law also imposes considerable obligations on the use of artificial intelligence in applications defined as "high risk", such as health, critical infrastructure, border control, education, law and the daily services that European citizens rely on. The law will apply to companies operating in the territory of the European Union and, importantly, to the technology giants behind the artificial intelligence products used by Europeans every day.

There is an important precedent of EU regulation having an impact beyond its borders. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of 2016 has gradually brought about global changes as platforms have changed the way they work to adapt to it. There is a dispute about how significant its impact was on user privacy, but the global impact of the European regulation is clear. Within two years, global technology giants such as Meta and Microsoft updated their policies, and privacy and awareness standards became common in most countries.

The big question will be whether the phenomenon known as the "Brussels effect" will also occur in the field of artificial intelligence, and whether the new regulation will establish global norms for the development of this technology.

The AI ​​Act is part of a series of policies that the European Union is formulating, including a treaty on artificial intelligence, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. The law is designed to address concerns about bias, privacy, and other risks arising from the developing technology.

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