April 26, 2021
The Commission has published proposals for a new legal framework on AI to guarantee the safety and fundamental rights of people and businesses, while strengthening AI uptake, investment and innovation across the EU. A new regulation on Machinery Products will complement this approach by adapting safety rules to increase users’ trust in the new, versatile generation of products.
The new AI Regulation aims to increase trust in AI. The Commission says that proportionate and flexible rules will address the specific risks posed by AI systems and set the highest standard worldwide.
The new rules will be applied directly in the same way across all Member States based on a future-proof definition of AI. They follow a risk-based approach:
- unacceptable risk: AI systems that are considered a clear threat to the safety, livelihoods and rights of people will be banned; this includes AI systems or applications that manipulate human behaviour to circumvent users’ free will (e.g. toys using voice assistance encouraging dangerous behaviour of minors) and systems that allow “social scoring” by governments;
- high-risk: AI systems identified as high-risk include AI technology used in critical infrastructure (e.g. transport), educational or vocational training (e.g. scoring of exams), safety product components (e.g. AI application in robot-assisted surgery), employment (e.g. CV-sorting software for recruitment procedures), essential private and public services (e.g. credit scoring), law enforcement (e.g. evaluation of the reliability of evidence and remote biometric ID systems), migration, asylum and border control management (e.g. verification of authenticity of travel documents) and administration of justice and democratic processes; such AI systems will be subject to strict obligations before they can be put on the market;
- limited risk: AI systems with specific transparency obligations, e.g. when using AI systems such as chatbots, users should be aware that they are interacting with a machine so they can take an informed decision to continue or step back; and
- minimal risk: the proposal allows the free use of applications such as AI-enabled video games or spam filters; the Regulation does not cover this category, into which the vast majority of AI systems fall, as they represent only minimal or no risk for citizens’ rights or safety.
In terms of governance, the Commission proposes that national competent market surveillance authorities supervise the new rules, while the creation of a European Artificial Intelligence Board will facilitate their implementation, as well as drive the development of standards for AI. Additionally, voluntary codes of conduct are proposed for non-high-risk AI, as well as regulatory sandboxes to facilitate responsible innovation.
As for the new Machinery Regulation, this will cover an extensive range of consumer and professional products, such as robots, lawnmowers, 3D printers, construction machines and industrial production lines. The new Regulation will ensure that the new generation of machinery guarantees the safety of users and consumers and encourages innovation. While the AI Regulation will address the safety risks of AI systems, the new Machinery Regulation will ensure the safe integration of the AI system into the overall machinery. Businesses will need to perform only one single conformity assessment.
Additionally, the Commission says that the new Machinery Regulation will respond to the market needs by bringing greater legal clarity to the current provisions, simplifying the administrative burden and costs for companies by allowing digital formats for documentation and adapting conformity assessment fees for SMEs, while ensuring coherence with the EU legislative framework for products. To read the Commission’s press release in full and for links to the draft legislation and the Commission’s Communication, click here.