EU Artificial Intelligence Act: The European Approach to AI

Dear all, it is my pleasure to share new Stanford tech policy research with the European AI Alliance: ''EU Artificial Intelligence Act: The European Approach to AI.'' The article has been published at the Stanford - Vienna Transatlantic Technology Law Forum, Transatlantic Antitrust and IPR Developments, Stanford University, Issue No. 2/2021.


Please find a short abstract below:

EU regulatory framework for AI

On 21 April 2021, the European Commission presented the Artificial Intelligence Act. This Stanford Law School contribution lists the main points of the proposed regulatory framework for AI.

The Act seeks to codify the high standards of the EU trustworthy AI paradigm, which requires AI to be legally, ethically and technically robust, while respecting democratic values, human rights and the rule of law. The draft regulation sets out core horizontal rules for the development, commodification and use of AI-driven products, services and systems within the territory of the EU, that apply to all industries.

Legal sandboxes fostering innovation

The EC aims to prevent the rules from stifling innovation and hindering the creation of a flourishing AI ecosystem in Europe. This is ensured by introducing various flexibilities, including the application of legal sandboxes that afford breathing room to AI developers.

Sophisticated ‘product safety regime’

The EU AI Act introduces a sophisticated ‘product safety framework’ constructed around a set of 4 risk categories. It imposes requirements for market entrance and certification of High-Risk AI Systems through a mandatory CE-marking procedure. To ensure equitable outcomes, this pre-market conformity regime also applies to machine learning training, testing and validation datasets.

Pyramid of criticality

The AI Act draft combines a risk-based approach based on the pyramid of criticality, with a modern, layered enforcement mechanism. This means, among other things, that a lighter legal regime applies to AI applications with a negligible risk, and that applications with an unacceptable risk are banned. Stricter regulations apply as risk increases.

Enforcement at both Union and Member State level

The draft regulation provides for the installation of a new enforcement body at Union level: the European Artificial Intelligence Board (EAIB). At Member State level, the EAIB will be flanked by national supervisors, similar to the GDPR’s oversight mechanism. Fines for violation of the rules can be up to 6% of global turnover.

CE-marking for High-Risk AI Systems

In line with my recommendations, the EU Artificial Intelligence Act requires high-risk AI and data-driven systems, products and services to comply with EU benchmarks, including safety and compliance assessments. This is crucial because it requires AI infused products and services to meet the high technical, legal and ethical standards that reflect the core values of trustworthy AI. Only then will they receive a CE marking that allows them to enter the European markets. This pre-market conformity mechanism works in the same manner as the existing CE marking: as safety certification for products traded in the European Economic Area (EEA).

Trustworthy AI by Design: ex ante and life-cycle auditing

Responsible, trustworthy AI by design requires awareness from all parties involved, from the first line of code. Indispensable tools to facilitate this awareness process are AI impact and conformity assessments, best practices, technology roadmaps and codes of conduct. These tools are executed by inclusive, multidisciplinary teams, that use them to monitor, validate and benchmark AI systems. It will all come down to ex ante and life-cycle auditing.

The new European rules will forever change the way AI is formed. Pursuing trustworthy AI by design seems like a sensible strategy, wherever you are in the world.

EU Artificial Intelligence Act: The European Approach to AI
(421.6 KB - PDF)
Mauritz Kop
EUAIAct Trustworthy AI by Design Stanford University CE-Marking AI Impact Assessment innovation Life-Cycle Auditing Pyramid of Criticality Product Safety Regime High-Risk AI Systems Certification Global Standards AIRecht