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February 9, 2024
The EU AI Act is on its final stretch, but one of the key lawmakers behind it warned the challenge will be in the implementation, when member states get their hands on it.
At the World AI Cannes Festival, Dragoș Tudorache, a Romanian MEP and one of the Act’s co-rapporteurs, said the challenge was to ensure member nations understand “the setup, mindset and spirit” of what they sought to achieve with the regulation.
Some nations expressed concerns over the Act, right up to the final days before the key member state vote earlier this month. But in the end, the nations reached a unanimous agreement.
Tudorache said he was “quite happy” that unanimity was reached and confirmed the Act is now heading for final rounds of scrutiny from committees before final votes in March or April, “depending on when translations will be available.”
The Act has been a point of contention and negotiation since it was first proposed in 2021.
Last July, more than 150 top European companies signed an open letter to the EU expressing “serious concerns” about the AI Act. They said the Act would “jeopardize Europe’s competitiveness and technological sovereignty without effectively tackling the challenges we are and will be facing.”
Some speakers in Cannes echoed this sentiment, saying it could stifle innovation. Tudorache dismissed this, however, saying there is “no tension between protection and innovation.”
“We have deliberately, in the design of the text, created the balance between the two objectives. ... It's not a zero-sum game. In fact, both can be achieved without basically stepping on each other's toes.”
Tudorache said the right safeguards and guardrails were in place to ensure that rights of individuals and businesses were in place.
He said the Act benefits businesses “because businesses need the trust of citizens.”
“It needs the trust of society in order to encourage uptake in order for transformation to actually take place in business.”
He contended that “enablers” were put in place from the beginning to ensure exemptions were available for open source development as well as special rules for SMEs.
“We had to make sure that this is not a hindrance to business on the contrary, it is one that creates the right context for business to grow, for creativity … and I'm convinced that actually the balance is there.”
Tudorache was asked whether the EU would create a similar piece of legislation for quantum computing.
His response: “Maybe, but I dare say − not.”
“The way I understand it is it’s more the foundation for even faster, smarter, even incredibly smarter AI.
“What an AI has been missing for a long time before it could reach the stage where it is today and the reason why it has emerged as what it is today, particularly foundation models, is because compute has moved along to the point where it is today.”
Tudorache said that the AI Act will need to be “kept in sync” with the rising levels of compute, particularly around foundation models, and if quantum powers rise it will need to be covered.
“Unless quantum computing will bring something new than what we can foresee today, my answer would be, no, there would not be special legislation for quantum. But we will need to constantly adapt the AI Act and that possibility is provided in the text.”
Read more about:Conference News
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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