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EU's drafted AI policies aim to keep Big Tech in check

The European Union proposed AI policies that would limit how companies and governments can use the ethically problematic tech

On Wednesday, the European Union announced new proposed artificial intelligence regulations, limiting how governments and corporations can use AI's more ethically dubious aspects.

Proactively attempting to regulate AI's more nefarious uses, the EU's draft rules would ban "AI systems considered a clear threat to the safety, livelihoods and rights of people."

The proposed rules would have far-reaching consequences for various use cases, including self-driving cars. Apple is reportedly working on an "Apple Car," a self-driving electric vehicle expected to launch somewhere between 2024 and 2028.

The policies would also reportedly regulate law enforcement AI, including the use of facial recognition in public spaces. However, it would allow for some exceptions, including those related to national security.

Other areas the rules could apply to include employment hiring decisions, school enrollment, and exam scoring.

"On artificial intelligence, trust is a must, not a nice-to-have," said Margrethe Vestager, the commission's digital chief. "With these landmark rules, the EU is spearheading the development of new global norms to make sure AI can be trusted."

"On artificial intelligence, trust is a must," said Margrethe Vestager, EU digital chief

Apart from future self-driving cars, it isn't yet clear to what degree the rules could affect Apple's plans. Apple's most visible AI, Siri, focuses primarily on relatively harmless consumer-experience tasks that respect user privacy. These can include simple questions, creating events, and recommending apps.

Rival Silicon Valley titans like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft have also invested heavily in developing AI, including robots and military contracts. Governments have also used the technology for law enforcement and public services.

As AI grows more advanced, skeptics worry about the technology's far-reaching consequences. Machine learning can lead eventually to AI that makes decisions that the humans behind it don't fully understand. It also has the potential to accentuate societal biases, leading to computers that discriminate in similar ways.

The EU has adopted an aggressive stance towards policing modern technology. The union, which includes 27 member states, previously enacted the world's most extensive online privacy regulations, which Apple fought against. In December 2020, the EU proposed sweeping competition regulations targeting Big Tech.

Competition is another one of the EU's areas of concern. In February, the union warned Apple that its App Tracking Transparency feature needs to treat its apps the same way as it treats the competition.

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