Business and Made in Italy Minister Adolfo Urso and Alessio Butti, the cabinet undersecretary with the innovation portfolio, welcomed the EU’s provisional agreement on the Artificial Intelligence Act agreed on Friday.
“It is a significant step for the development of artificial intelligence in the EU and in Italy,” Urso and Butti said in a statement.
“Italy will reiterate the need for a simple and clear regulatory framework that reflects a balance between technological progress and the safeguarding of Constitutionally-oriented ethical principles and of citizens’ rights (when the agreement is submitted to the European governments for final approval)”. The European Union’s AI Act is set to become the world’s first law on artificial intelligence (AI).
What is in the provisional agreement?
Following 36 hours of negotiations, the agreement encompasses regulations concerning AI systems like ChatGPT and facial recognition.
Although the European Parliament is scheduled to vote on the proposed AI Act early next year, the legislation is not expected to take effect until at least 2025. This development comes as the United States, the United Kingdom, and China are all racing to formulate and release their respective AI guidelines.
The proposed regulations include safeguards for AI use within the EU and limitations on its application by law enforcement agencies. Consumers would be granted the right to file complaints, with the possibility of fines for violations.
Under the agreement, a series of AI uses would be banned.
These include: biometric categorisation systems that use sensitive characteristics (e.g. political, religious, philosophical beliefs, sexual orientation, race); untargeted scraping of facial images from the internet or CCTV footage to create facial recognition databases; emotion recognition in the workplace and educational institutions; social scoring based on social behaviour or personal characteristics; AI systems that manipulate human behaviour to circumvent their free will; AI used to exploit the vulnerabilities of people (due to their age, disability, social or economic situation).
In November, PM Giorgia Meloni announced Italy will hold a major AI conference during its G7 presidency next year.
How does the EU define AI?
According to the European Parliament’s definition, AI is characterised as software capable of “generating outputs such as content, predictions, recommendations, or decisions influencing the environments they interact with” to achieve specified human-defined objectives.
EU Commissioner Thierry Breton lauded the plans as “historic,” saying they establish “clear rules for the use of AI.” He further highlighted that the AI Act is not just a rulebook but also a catalyst for EU startups and researchers to lead the global AI race.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed confidence that the AI Act would foster the development of technology that upholds people’s safety and rights. In a social media post, she described it as a “unique legal framework for the development of AI you can trust.”