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EU agency pushing for research into how AI will affect fundamental human rights

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EU agency pushing for research into how AI will affect fundamental human rights

In a world awash in new authoritarian sentiment, it is notable that the European Union has published a lengthy report saying it is key for nascent AI regulation to adequately protect fundamental human rights in the region.

Few nations buying, developing or deploying biometrics and other AI systems are offering more than lip service to the need to shelter people and their personal data from rapaciousness by the private sector or high handedness by government.

At the distant end of the spectrum is China, where regulation of AI can be reduced to instructions from Beijing to do what is necessary to make that nation globally pre-eminent.

Somewhere in the middle is the United States, where relevant federal regulation is inadequate and antiquated, and state regulation is a chaotic patchwork.

The new report, by the EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights, carries 91 interviews with business executives and government officials from several EU member states.

Its authors start with the premise that people need to know when AI is being used in a way that affects them, and too often people are in the dark. Beyond just knowing how the algorithms are affecting their lives, they do not know that they can go to court when they have been harmed.

More information must be shared about the technology and people’s rights. And now, when AI is poised to become a major force in people’s private and public lives, is the right time to begin setting relevant regulation, according to the report.

Indeed, only two of the government officials and executives interviewed said they have stopped developing or using AI. Two told the agency they are sitting watchfully from the sidelines for reasons including a lack of resources at the moment. All of the rest are moving ahead.

Significant, too, is the fact that, “Some interviewees mentioned that they are engaged in ongoing debates and expressed the desire to contribute” to new legislation.

Impacts are already being felt in EU rights regarding human dignity, privacy, data protection, non-discrimination, consumer protection, good administration and others. The freedoms are part of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The agency recommends that, before business or industry procedures are hammered out and before even local laws are enacted, more research on the implications of AI on fundamental rights should be completed.

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