The EU Is Considering A Ban On AI For Mass Surveillance

Developing artificial intelligence is a double-edged sword. Especially for systems that can affect humans directly like self-driving cars, home automation, and mass surveillance. While it is beneficial but giving such power to a computer that is just a hack away from turning against its maker is rather worrying. The European Union itself is considering banning the use of artificial intelligence.

This news comes through a leaked proposal for the bans which is circulating online. The official announcement is expected next week but if the proposal is adopted it would see the EU banning key applications of AI across its countries. According to the proposal, all member states would be required to set up boards to test and validate high-risk artificial intelligence systems.

According to Daniel Leufer, Europe policy analyst, “The descriptions of AI systems to be prohibited are vague and full of language that is unclear and would create serious room for loopholes”. Commentating on the draft he said that the policies were far from ideal.

The draft circulating the internet includes the following points

  • A ban on AI for “indiscriminate surveillance,” including systems that directly track individuals in physical environments or aggregate data from other sources.
  • A ban on AI systems that create social credit scores, which means judging someone’s trustworthiness based on social behavior or predicted personality traits.
  • Special authorization for using “remote biometric identification systems” like facial recognition in public spaces.
  • Notifications required when people are interacting with an AI system, unless this is “obvious from the circumstances and the context of use”.
  • New oversight for “high-risk” AI systems, including those that pose a direct threat to safety, like self-driving cars, and those that have a high chance of affecting someone’s livelihood, like those used for job hiring, judiciary decisions, and credit scoring.
  • Assessment for high-risk systems before they’re put into service, including making sure these systems are explicable to human overseers and that they’re trained on “high quality” datasets tested for bias.
  • The creation of a “European Artificial Intelligence Board,” consisting of representatives from every nation-state, to help the commission decide which AI systems count as “high-risk” and to recommend changes to prohibitions.

The official announcement is to come next week, i.e April 21st. It is currently unclear as to how different the finalized proposal will be but we can hope it is changed as the current is vague and could be exploited.

Policies like these need time to be perfected. The current wordings are vague and some prohibitions are far too lenient. The prohibition against AI social credit systems is defined too narrowly with much left to speculation.

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