E.U. Takes Major Step Toward Regulating A.I.

Policymakers everywhere from Washington to Beijing are now racing to control an evolving technology that is alarming even some of its earliest creators. In the United States, the White House has released policy ideas that include rules for testing A.I. systems before they are publicly available and protecting privacy rights. In China, draft rules unveiled in April would require makers of chatbots to adhere to the country’s strict censorship rules. Beijing is also taking more control over the ways makers of A.I. systems use data.

How effective any regulation of A.I. can be is unclear. In a sign that the technology’s new abilities are emerging seemingly faster than lawmakers are able to address them, earlier versions of the E.U. law did not give much attention to so-called generative A.I. systems like ChatGPT, which can produce text, images and video in response to prompts.

Under the latest version of Europe’s bill passed on Wednesday, generative A.I. would face new transparency requirements. That includes publishing summaries of copyrighted material used for training the system, a proposal supported by the publishing industry but opposed by tech developers as technically infeasible. Makers of generative A.I. systems would also have to put safeguards in place to prevent them from generating illegal content.

Francine Bennett, acting director of the Ada Lovelace Institute, an organization in London that has pushed for new A.I. laws, said the E.U. proposal was an “important landmark.”

“Fast-moving and rapidly repurposable technology is of course hard to regulate, when not even the companies building the technology are completely clear on how things will play out,” Ms. Bennett said. “But it would definitely be worse for us all to continue operating with no adequate regulation at all.”

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