EU/US global AI code of conduct ‘within weeks’

European Union and United States working at speed to publish voluntary code of conduct for companies working in artificial intelligence, ahead of legislation

The US and the EU plan to publish a draft global AI code of conduct “within weeks” says EU tech commissioner Margarethe Vestegar.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken and Vestegar met in Sweden yesterday and said the tech industry would have a chance to commit to a final proposal on the voluntary AI code of conduct “very, very soon,” according to Reuters.

Vestegar said that the US and the EU should push this voluntary AI code of conduct to provide safeguards while new laws are developed. The hope is that governments in other regions, including India and Indonesia, will want to get involved.

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The voluntary AI code of conduct would bridge the gap while the 27-nation EU works on its ground-breaking Artificial Intelligence Act that won’t take effect for up to three years.

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“Generative AI is a complete game-changer,” Vestager told a news conference on Wednesday after a meeting of the EU-US Trade Technology Council.

In a subsequent tweet she mentioned watermarking and external audits among ideas that could feature in the code.

Mr Blinken said: “There is almost always a gap between when the time when these technologies emerge and the time it has an impact on people and the time it takes for governments and institutions to figure out whether to legislate or regulate.”

Next week Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will be at the White House to discuss what he calls regulatory guardrails when it comes to AI with President Biden.

According to the Financial Times, British officials believe the UK could forge a middle way which would be less “draconian” than the approach taken by the EU, while less “blasé” than what American lawmakers.

On Tuesday, more than 350 artificial intelligence experts signed an open letter warning that the threat to humanity from unchecked AI development rivals that of nuclear conflict and pandemics.

OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman – whose company developed AI gamechanger ChatGPT – has been especially vocal, telling the US Congress that the industry needed regulation in the form of licences.

And yet in the next breath, he slapped down the draft EU AI Act, suggesting that the maker of ChatGPT could exit Europe if its planned laws are not watered down.

He then quickly withdrew the threat after the EU’s internal market commissioner publicly accused the company of attempting to blackmail lawmakers.

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...