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October 26, 2020
The European Parliament has put forward recommendations on what AI rules should include with regards to ethics, liability and intellectual property rights. The Commission’s legislative proposal is expected early next year.
The first EU Parliament legislative initiative urges the EU Commission to present a new legal framework outlining the ethical principles and legal obligations to be followed when developing, deploying and using AI, robotics and related technologies in the EU including software, algorithms and data. It was adopted with 559 votes in favour, 44 against, and 88 abstentions.
According to the document, future laws should be made in accordance with certain guiding principles, including: human-centric and human-made AI; safety, transparency and accountability; safeguards against bias and discrimination; right to redress; social and environmental responsibility; and respect for privacy and data protection.
High-risk AI technologies, such as those with self-learning capacities, should be designed to allow for human oversight at any time. If a functionality is used that would result in a serious breach of ethical principles and could be dangerous, the self-learning capacities should be disabled and full human control should be restored.
A second legislative initiative calls for a future-oriented civil liability framework, making those operating high-risk AI strictly liable for any resulting damage. According to MEPs, a clear legal framework would stimulate innovation by providing businesses with legal certainty, whilst protecting citizens and promoting their trust in AI technologies by deterring activities that might be dangerous. The rules should apply to physical or virtual AI activity that harms or damages life, health, physical integrity, property, or that causes significant immaterial harm if it results in “verifiable economic loss”. While high-risk AI technologies are still rare, MEPs believe that their operators should hold insurance similar to that used for motor vehicles.
The legislative initiative was adopted with 626 votes in favour, 25 against, and 40 abstentions.
Finally, MEPs adopted a report on AI and intellectual property rights (IPR) with 612 votes in favour, 66 against, and 12 abstentions. The report makes clear that EU global leadership in AI requires an effective IPR system and safeguards for the EU’s patent system to protect innovative developers, while stressing that this should not come at the expense of human creators’ interests, nor the EU’s ethical principles.
MEPs believe it is important to distinguish between AI-assisted human creations and AI-generated creations. They specify that AI should not have legal personality; thus, ownership of IPRs should only be granted to humans. The text looks further into copyright, data collection, trade secrets, the use of algorithms and deep fakes. To read the European Parliament’s press release in full, click here.