EU tech chief pushes for rapid creation of AI code of conduct

EU's tech chief, Margrethe Vestager, emphasizes the urgency of drafting an AI code of conduct to regulate the fast-evolving field of generative AI.
Daniel Lehewych
European Union
European Union

"European Union" by motiqua is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

EU's tech chief, Margrethe Vestager, has announced her anticipation for a draft code of conduct concerning artificial intelligence (AI) to be formulated within the coming weeks. As reported in Reuters, urgent development will allow the industry to expedite its commitment to a finalized proposal, responding to growing global concerns surrounding AI, particularly in generative AI technologies like ChatGPT.

AI critics have equated these technologies' potential risks to global pandemics or even nuclear war. With such high stakes, Vestager advocates for swift action from the United States and the European Union. The proposed voluntary code aims to establish much-needed safeguards while comprehensive legislation is being crafted.

"Generative AI is a complete game-changer," Vestager stated during a news conference following a meeting with the EU-U.S. Trade and Technology Council (TTC). She stressed the critical nature of this moment in tech history, explaining, "Everyone knows this is the next powerful thing."

Push for Regulation

Vestager expressed hope for the prompt drafting of an AI code of conduct, eager for its subsequent adoption by the industry. Potential elements of this code, as outlined in a follow-up tweet by Vestager, could include strategies such as watermarking and external audits.

The European Union's ongoing legislative process surrounding the AI Act, which will establish facial recognition and biometric surveillance rules, was highlighted as a pertinent but time-consuming process. Vestager underscored the situation's urgency, pointing out, "In the best of cases, it will take effect in two and a half to three years. That is way too late. We need to act now."

AI's Rapid Evolution

The TTC's closing statement outlined the formation of expert groups focusing on evaluating AI risks, fostering cooperation on AI standards, and monitoring existing and emerging threats. This initiative aligns with the recent call from G7 nation leaders to develop technical standards to ensure AI remains "trustworthy."

Vestager underscored the importance of a mutual agreement on specifics, suggesting Brussels and Washington could play significant roles in driving the process forward. Acknowledging the rapid pace at which generative AI is evolving, she said, "We need to act now." The international community eagerly anticipates the draft code of conduct, a crucial step in establishing AI development and application guidelines.

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