EU, U.S. to seek stopgap standards for AI

By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union and the United States are set to step up cooperation on artificial intelligence with a view to establishing minimum standards before legislation enters force, the EU’s tech chief Margrethe Vestager said on Tuesday.

The European Union’s AI Act could be the world’s first comprehensive legislation governing the technology, with new rules on facial recognition and biometric surveillance, but EU governments and lawmakers still need to agree a common text.

Vestager, a vice-president of the European Commission, told a briefing on Tuesday that process might be completed by the end of the year.

“That would still leave one if not two years then to come into effect, which means that we need something to bridge that period of time,” she said.

Vestager said AI would be one area of focus at the fourth ministerial-level meeting of the Trade and Technology Council (TTC) in Sweden on May 30-31, with discussions on generative AI algorithms that produce new text, visual or sound content, such as ChatGPT.

“There is a shared sense of urgency. In order to make the most of this technology, guard rails are needed,” she said. “Can we discuss what we can expect companies to do as a minimum before legislation kicks in?”

Leaders of the G7 nations called on Saturday for the development of technical standards to keep AI “trustworthy”, urging international discussions on topics such as governance, copyrights, transparency and the threat of disinformation.

Vestager, who is expected to discuss AI with Alphabet chief Sundar Pichai on Wednesday, noted these international talks had not yet happened. G7 leaders tasked relevant ministers to set up a G7 working group on AI by the end of the year.

“I think that we can talk about this within the TTC in a way that will help the G7 process to be as concrete as possible,” she said.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop, editing by Ed Osmond)

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