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EU’s Competition and Digital Chief Defends AI Act Amid Criticism from Macron

 |  January 1, 2024

In the face of criticism from French President Emmanuel Macron, Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition and digital chief, staunchly defended the bloc’s proposed AI Act, emphasizing its role in providing “legal certainty” for technology start-ups. Vestager, in an interview with the Financial Times, asserted that the legislation would not stifle innovation and research but rather enhance it.

The EU’s AI Act, a landmark law in the realm of artificial intelligence, has faced skepticism and opposition, particularly from Macron, who expressed concerns that it could put European tech companies at a disadvantage compared to their counterparts in the United States and China.

Vestager countered these concerns, highlighting the legislation’s role in creating a clear set of rules for developers working on foundational models. These foundational models form the basis for generative AI products like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, capable of producing humanlike text, images, and code within seconds.

“[The AI Act] creates predictability and legal certainty in the market when things are put to use,” said Vestager, who serves as the commission’s executive vice-president overseeing competition and the EU’s strategy for the digital age.

Read more: EU’s Vestager Sees No Need For Regulation In The Metaverse

The significance of the legislation lies in its establishment of guidelines for foundational models, ensuring that those involved in their development or application are aware of the parameters and requirements. This, according to Vestager, prevents regulatory overreach, fostering an environment where innovation and research can thrive.

“If you do foundational models, but also if you want to apply foundational models, you know exactly what you are going to look for once it is put into use. It is important that you do not have any regulatory over-reach, that innovation and research are promoted again,” Vestager emphasized.

Macron’s criticism underscores the ongoing debate within the EU over the balance between regulation and innovation in the rapidly evolving field of artificial intelligence. As the EU aims to position itself as a global leader in technology, the AI Act represents a pivotal step towards establishing a framework that ensures ethical and responsible AI development while fostering a competitive and innovative landscape.

Source: FT