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Governments race to regulate AI tools

Governments race to regulate AI tools
AI (Artificial Intelligence) letters are placed on computer motherboard in this illustration taken June 23, 2023.
PHOTO: Reuters file

Rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI) such as Microsoft-backed OpenAI's ChatGPT are complicating governments' efforts to agree laws governing the use of the technology.

Here are the latest steps national and international governing bodies are taking to regulate AI tools:


* Planning regulations

Australia will make search engines draft new codes to prevent the sharing of child sexual abuse material created by AI and the production of deepfake versions of the same material, the country's internet regulator said on Sept 8.

United Kingdom

* Planning regulations

UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) set out seven principles on Sept 18 designed to make developers accountable, prevent Big Tech tying up the tech in their walled platforms, and stop anti-competitive conduct like bundling.

The proposed principles, which come six weeks before Britain hosts a global AI safety summit, will underpin its approach to AI when it assumes new powers in the coming months to oversee digital markets.

Britain's competition regulator said in May it would start examining the impact of AI on consumers, businesses and the economy and whether new controls were needed.


* Implemented temporary regulations

China has issued a set of temporary measures effective from Aug 15, requiring service providers to submit security assessments and receive clearance before releasing mass-market AI products.

Following government approvals, four Chinese tech firms, including Baidu (9888.HK) and SenseTime Group, launched their AI chatbots to the public on Aug 31.

European Union

* Planning regulations

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sept 13 called for a global panel to assess the risks and benefits of AI, similarly to the global IPCC panel which informs policy makers about the climate.

EU lawmakers agreed in June to changes in a draft of the bloc's AI Act. The lawmakers will now have to thrash out details with EU countries before the draft rules become legislation.

The biggest issue is expected to be facial recognition and biometric surveillance where some lawmakers want a total ban while EU countries want an exception for national security, defence and military purposes.


* Investigating possible breaches

France's privacy watchdog CNIL said in April it was investigating several complaints about ChatGPT after the chatbot was temporarily banned in Italy over a suspected breach of privacy rules.

France's National Assembly approved in March the use of AI video surveillance during the 2024 Paris Olympics, overlooking warnings from civil rights groups.


* Seeking input on regulations

Group of Seven (G7) leaders meeting in Hiroshima, Japan, acknowledged in May the need for governance of AI and immersive technologies and agreed to have ministers discuss the technology as the "Hiroshima AI process" and report results by the end of 2023.

G7 nations should adopt "risk-based" regulation on AI, G7 digital ministers said after a meeting in April.


* Seeking input on regulations

Generative AI needs to be regulated, but governing bodies must work out how to do so properly before rushing into prohibitions that "really aren't going to stand up", Ireland's data protection chief said in April.


* Seeking input on regulations

Israel has been working on AI regulations to achieve the right balance between innovation and the preservation of human rights, Ziv Katzir, director of national AI planning at the Israel Innovation Authority, said in June.

Israel published a 115-page draft AI policy in October 2022 and is collating public feedback ahead of a final decision.


* Investigating possible breaches

Italy's data protection authority plans to review artificial intelligence platforms and hire AI experts, a top official said in May.

ChatGPT became available to users in Italy in April after being temporarily banned over concerns by the national data protection authority in March.


* Investigating possible breaches

Japan expects to introduce by the end of 2023 regulations that are likely closer to the US attitude than the stringent ones planned in the EU, an official close to deliberations said in July.

The country's privacy watchdog said in June it had warned OpenAI not to collect sensitive data without people's permission.


* Investigating possible breaches

Spain's data protection agency said in April it was launching a preliminary investigation into potential data breaches by ChatGPT. It has also asked the EU's privacy watchdog to evaluate privacy concerns surrounding ChatGPT.

United Nations

* Planning regulations

The UN Security Council held its first formal discussion on AI in New York in July. The council addressed both military and non-military applications of AI, which "could have very serious consequences for global peace and security", UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

Guterres in June backed a proposal by some AI executives for the creation of an AI watchdog like the International Atomic Energy Agency, but noted that "only member states can create it, not the Secretariat of the United Nations".

The UN Secretary-General has also announced plans to start work by the end of the year on a high-level AI advisory body to review AI governance arrangements.


* Seeking input on regulations

The US Congress held hearings on AI between Sept. 11 and 13 and an AI forum featuring Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

More than 60 senators took part in the talks, during which Musk called for a US "referee" for AI. Lawmakers said there was universal agreement about the need for government regulation of the technology.

On Sept 12, the White House said Adobe, IBM, Nvidia and five other firms had signed President Joe Biden's voluntary commitments governing AI, which require steps such as watermarking AI-generated content.

Washington DC district Judge Beryl Howell ruled on Aug 21 that a work of art created by AI without any human input cannot be copyrighted under US law.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) opened in July an expansive investigation into OpenAI on claims that it has run afoul of consumer protection laws.

ALSO READ: Unesco seeks regulation in first guidance on GenAI use in education

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