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March AI Update – The EU AI Act

The EU AI Act – now a virtual reality?

The form of the EU’s AI Act looks increasingly certain after members of the European Parliament approved the form of the Act on 13 March.

While not the final assent (the Act will still be subject to a final lawyer-linguist check and then needs to be formally endorsed by the Council), the final shape of the act would now seem all but certain.

As things stand, the Act is on course to become law in May, and its regulations on prohibited AI systems would take effect after six months, by the end of the year. Other terms within the Act will come into effect over the next three years.

Breach of the EU AI Act could lead to fines of up to €35 million or 7% of global turnover, meaning that any entities providing or using prohibited AI systems in the EU could face hefty financial consequences within the year.

Under the EU AI Act, AI systems will be categorised into four main categories based on the level of risk they pose.

  • “Unacceptable Risk” AI systems, such as systems that seek to manipulate people to cause harm; social scoring systems and predictive policing, are all prohibited. However, exceptions exist for AI systems designed for military, defence or national security use, or those designed for use in scientific research and innovation.
  • “High Risk” systems, are permitted but subject to stringent regulations. These include AI systems to be used in education, medicine and public infrastructure (such as utility supply). AI systems being employed in these areas will need to be explainable, accurate and documented.
  • “Limited Risk” systems such as those seeking to interact with individuals are subject to less intensive transparency obligations.
  • “Minimal and/or No Risk” systems, namely any other AI systems that fall outside the scope of the EU AI Act.

In almost all contexts, regardless of risk level, users must be informed if they are interacting with an AI system (such as website chatbots).

As we saw last month, the UK is taking a conspicuously different approach to the regulation of AI, and has ruled out imposing new legislation for the time being, instead seeking to rely upon existing regulators to monitor the use and misuse of AI.

Our latest AI Update was produced by Richard Wilkin. Please reach out to Richard for more information on AI, or find out more about how we can help you.

Disclaimer: This article is produced for and on behalf of White & Black Limited, which is a limited liability company registered in England and Wales with registered number 06436665. It is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The contents of this article should be viewed as opinion and general guidance, and should not be treated as legal advice.

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