France: EU AI Act is ‘Excessive,' Harms Innovation

European companies have a ‘pressing obligation to develop Gen AI models’

Ben Wodecki, Jr. Editor

June 8, 2023

2 Min Read
ALAIN JOCARD/AFP via Getty Images

At a Glance

  • France’s digital minister has said the EU AI Act in its current state could prevent European companies from developing AI.
  • The EU AI Act lacks provisions on IP rights protections and disinformation, Jean-Noël Barrot warns.

The EU AI Act is too stringent and risks impacting innovation, according to French Digital Minister Jean-Noël Barrot.

The French minister told Politico that the European Parliament’s position is “excessive” and that it risks preventing European companies from developing AI systems akin to ChatGPT.

"The objective is not to see non-European dialogue systems set up in Europe, but rather to see European ones develop,” Barrot said. “However, we must take these signs into account and avoid taking Europe out of the technology history."

He argued that Parliament’s position on AI rules comes “at a time when we have a pressing obligation to develop generative AI models in Europe over the coming months, to be autonomous and not have to depend on non-European models in the years and decades to come.”

Barrot also took issue with the fact that the prospective legislation doesn’t cover intellectual property rights, disinformation and privacy. While the EU AI Act may not cover disinformation to Barrot’s liking, the EU Digital Services Act will enter into force in August. Before its inception, big-name platforms like Facebook, Google and TikTok have all signed a voluntary code of conduct pledging to fight disinformation – with the leaders behind it wanting AI-generated content labeled to try and combat the growing issue.

Related:AI Regulations Snapshot: Updates in Key Jurisdictions

Barrot’s position comes after several French politicians, including President Emmanuel Macron, have stressed a middle ground between both AI regulation and innovation. The country’s former Digital Minister, Cédric O, said that Parliament’s approach to the bill “de facto prohibits the emergence of European (large language models)."

Both the European Parliament and the Council of Europe have agreed on their respective interpretations of the legislation. However, a vote on the bill that was expected to take place next week is now being delayed as lawmakers continue to argue over provisions of the bill.

Should it pass, the EU AI Act would categorize all AI systems deployed in the bloc, with those deemed to impact citizens' rights being subject to strict cheques and balances and could even be outright banned.

Recent amendments to foundation models are too cumbersome for OpenAI, with the makers of ChatGPT previously threatening to exit Europe, before later recanting. CEO Sam Altman, currently embarking on a global tour to lobby nations looking at AI governance, said the initial proposal was akin to the EU “over-regulating.”

Aside from the AI Act, EU officials are currently drafting a set of voluntary rules that would govern AI, with Google CEO Sundar Pichai brought in to help set the rules.

Related:EU Leaders Want Online Sites to Label Content Generated by AI

Read more about:

ChatGPT / Generative AI

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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