Facebook, Google, and Apple visit European Commission in talks on new AI Policy

Big tech companies are debating the dangers of artificial intelligence with the EU.
Chris Young
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Though artificial intelligence (AI) is already changing our lives for the better, many experts believe it could also be a serious danger to humanity in the future if it is left unregulated. 

The European Union has recently led the way when it comes to efforts to keep big tech companies, with their immense power, in check. Now the bloc turns its attention to the dangers of AI.

As big tech companies like Facebook and Google have invested huge amounts of money into the sector, they have sent executives to Brussels to debate the importance of innovation in the field.


Silicon Valley is nervously keeping an eye on the EU

Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, John Giannandrea, Apple’s senior vice president for artificial intelligence, and Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook chief executive, all recently visited the European Commission to talk about AI.

As The New York Times reports, they spoke with officials including Margrethe Vestager, the executive vice president of the European Commission, about the EU's upcoming policy on how companies will be allowed to utilize AI.

Ms. Vestager was given a 100-day deadline to release an initial proposal about artificial intelligence back in November. A first draft of the 27-country bloc's artificial intelligence policy, which is being coordinated by Ms. Vestager, will be released on Wednesday. 

Striking a balance between regulation and free innovation

“While AI promises enormous benefits for Europe and the world, there are real concerns about the potential negative consequences,” Mr. Pichai said in a speech last month in Brussels.

Though he agreed that regulation of artificial intelligence is necessary, he added that “there is a balance to be had” to ensure that the EU's new policy doesn't hinder innovation.

Mr. Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook said: "I’m glad the EU is looking at making data sharing easier because it enables people to build things that are valuable for society."

"I believe good regulation may hurt Facebook’s business in the near term but it will be better for everyone, including us, over the long term," he added, surprisingly perhaps, showing his support for the new rules.

The EU has led the way in recent years when it comes to regulating issues such as digital privacy. One example is the time the union fined Google $5 billion for Android antitrust violations.

Though the first draft of the EU's policy is released this week, the debate surrounding the policy's take on artificial intelligence is expected to last throughout the year.

Seeing as a recent petition to keep AI-powered killer robots in check due to a fear that they could lead to "mass atrocities," was signed by thousands of experts, and that Google has received pushback from its own employees over military contracts, we're glad that big tech isn't being given an easy ride when it comes to policy on artificial intelligence.

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