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Artificial Intelligence – Between Innovative Technology and Disaster

Artificial Intelligence – Between Innovative Technology and Disaster. Proposal for Union-Level Regulation of AI Usage

Viewed as a method of enhancing society across numerous sectors and areas of activity, artificial intelligence represents a system that imitates and performs activities similar to those of humans, offering assistance through various techniques such as personalized recommendations tailored to individual needs, processing and analyzing large amounts of data in a very short time, as well as providing solutions based on user behavior and preferences.

Despite the aforementioned benefits, this continuously evolving type of intelligence presents certain risks, including legal concerns. This is why the European Parliament has initiated the development of a Regulation Proposal in this field, with the aim of safeguarding users of such AI systems and imposing stringent obligations on providers, importers, and distributors of such systems, to ensure that the evolution of AI supports humanity rather than harming it. Therefore, in order to stay true to the well-known notion that technology progresses to assist its users, we expect the aforementioned proposals to materialize in the coming years into rigorous regulations applicable to both AI system providers and users, and even into clear provisions prohibiting systems identified as having a high level of risk or imposing extremely strict conditions under which such systems can be used. The concept of “high risk” entails any circumstance that infringes upon fundamental rights, safety, health, etc.

Within the Regulation Proposal on AI usage, a series of rules are established to ensure that AI systems introduced to the Union market and used are safe and comply with existing legislation regarding fundamental rights and Union values, providing legal security to facilitate investments and innovation in the field of AI.

For example, a situation posing challenges in the realm of AI is generated by the phenomenon of “deepfake,” described earlier in this article, which refers to “any image, audio recording, or video recording created using artificial intelligence (AI) or augmented reality (AR) technology in such a way as to create the appearance that a person has said or done things that they did not actually say or do,” resulting in the tarnishing of an individual’s image, reputation, and dignity. In this regard, there is a legislative proposal aiming to prohibit malicious use of technology and restrict the phenomenon of deepfakes, which could be employed for blackmail or spreading misinformation.

To combat such risks and problematic situations, the discussed Proposal introduces a series of prohibited actions in the field of artificial intelligence, including:

  1. Introducing to the market, putting into operation, or using an AI system that employs subliminal techniques without individuals being aware of it, in a way that significantly distorts a person’s behavior to cause or potentially cause physical or psychological harm to that person or another person;
  2. Introducing to the market, putting into operation, or using an AI system that exploits any vulnerabilities of a specific group of people due to age, physical or mental disability, to significantly distort the behavior of a person belonging to that group in a manner that causes or potentially causes physical or psychological harm to that person or another person; or

iii. Using remote “real-time” biometric identification systems in publicly accessible spaces for law enforcement purposes, except in cases and to the extent that such use is strictly necessary for one of the following objectives:

(i) specific search for potential victims of criminal activity, including missing children;

(ii) prevention of a specific, substantial, and imminent threat to the life or physical safety of individuals or a terrorist attack;

(iii) detection, localization, identification, or criminal tracking of an offender or a person suspected of an offense and subject to a penalty or custodial measure for a maximum period of at least three years in the relevant member state’s legislation.

Moreover, the discussed Regulation Proposal imposes a series of obligations on users of high-risk AI systems. In general, such users will be required to use such systems in accordance with the accompanying instructions.

Considering the aforementioned, the identified risks associated with AI system usage must be addressed with even greater emphasis, and the development of an ethical and legal framework for artificial intelligence usage must remain a priority at both the Union and each member state level. Regulation, monitoring, and transparency in AI development and implementation can contribute to minimizing risks and ensuring the beneficial use of this technology.

As a corollary to the above-presented information, we conclude by stating that uncontrolled AI usage can lead to “A potential end of human history. Not the end of history, but the end of its human-dominated part,” as noted by the renowned historian and philosopher Yuval Noah Harari.

Mihaela Bălău, Attorney at Law

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