The attempt to wrestle AI systems into some form of regulatory framework is understandable. Opaque and often mistrusted, algorithms are coming to play a part in shaping the way many important government and corporate decisions are made. But the implications are profound.
The commission’s announcement this week drew attention mainly for proposing to ban the most controversial uses of AI, such as virtually all deployments of facial recognition in public places. Cracking down on automated surveillance is likely to draw wide support.
AI, for instance, will be prohibited outright if it is deemed to involve manipulating people using subliminal techniques in ways that might cause them harm. That sounds laudable. Language, however, is malleable. In the minds of many Facebook critics, this might sound like a fair description of the way social media algorithms already stoke extreme political polarisation.
These are the key takeaways from an excellent exposition of the rules.
Is EU the vanguard of privacy? Cynics may argue EU has lost out the race for web dominance. It couldn’t capitalise on the “dotcom” boom and then failed to have something like Google. Subsequently, the domination of 5G tech as it’s star Nokia was taken over by Microsoft which burned it to ground. Besides basic research, research applications are zilch with onerous and bureaucratic spokes at every level to access private data.
Therefore, it appears like EU is taking a “moral high ground”. While laudable that facial recognition is the way forward, I saw it’s deployment at the Frankfurt Airport (in Germany) where it promised faster clearance for the German citizens. I didn’t see any pushback or opposition to it. That’s how, ladies and gentlemen, they normalise the behaviour by offering it as a convenience.
That’s the reason I remain cynical of EU’s efforts to restrict AI.