Wednesday, May 15 2019

How Will US Businesses Be Affected by the EU's AI Guidelines?

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In April, the European Union (EU) released a set of ethical guidelines regarding the use of artificial intelligence (AI) by government agencies and businesses. The focus is on achieving trustworthy AI – technologies that act in a lawful, ethical, and socially acceptable manner while also being technologically robust.

Specific requirements were outlined by the EU, touching on core issues and concerns, such as oversight, safety, privacy, transparency, non-discrimination, accountability, and more. While the guidelines are not considered law, they do represent a framework for organizations who wish to create a trustworthy AI.

Additionally, the guidelines aren’t technically aimed at other nations, barring companies that may do business on an international level or organizations that interact with EU citizens. However, businesses across the world – including the United States – should take notice of this effort, as they represent a unique opportunity for global business.

The AI Umbrella

The AI umbrella actually includes a wide range of technologies. Natural language processing, facial and object recognition, deep learning, and much more all fall into the category.

While these technologies do certainly provide value – both from a corporate and consumer perspective – not all of the existing or theoretical solutions are without controversy. Issues surrounding surveillance and monitoring are often cited as concerns, as well as bias within AI systems.

The EU AI standards aim to provide companies and government agencies with guidance to help avoid certain issues with creating a new solution. Ultimately, the goal is to help organizations craft AI systems that provide a benefit while reducing the likelihood of harm – intended or unintentional.


How US Businesses Will Be Affected by the EU AI Guidelines

As mentioned above, the guidelines are not law. However, that does not mean that US-based companies shouldn’t review each point.

Several major companies have made headlines for autonomous systems or AI-based algorithms that would not meet the EU’s definition of trustworthy. Issues of safety, fairness, and accuracy have all been cited in various incidents, making many of the EU’s AI guidelines particularly relevant at this juncture.

Additionally, AI has a substantial amount of potential in a wide range of industries. As a result, more companies are exploring the capabilities of AI-based systems and solutions. Wider use could lead to numerous benefits, but only if the AI is ethical.

While most governments have yet to release laws dictating the use of AI or requirements for the creation of AI-based systems, it’s important to understand that they could be forthcoming. The EU guidelines may not be law, but they do serve as a solid starting point for initiating discussions on the matter and may become a framework for future regulations.

The EU intends to pilot the guidelines with a variety of organizations. By early 2020, they hope to gather feedback from companies and agencies to determine next steps.

Ultimately, the full potential of AI is still not known, and figuring out how to properly construct and control these potentially controversial technologies is challenging. However, the EU is taking active steps to steer organizations in the right direction and, if the pilot yields positive results, may even take more formal steps in the future.


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