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ChatGPT, other advanced AI tools face regulatory clampdown in Europe

A key group of European Union lawmakers say they are eyeing a regulatory clampdown on Microsoft-backed OpenAI’s ChatGPT and other advanced artificial intelligence systems as fears mount about the potential risks of unrestrained development.

In an open letter published Monday, the group of a dozen EU legislators called for the implementation of regulations on the development of so-called “General Purpose AI systems,” such as ChatGPT and Google’s Bard.

The lawmakers said they are “determined to provide…a set of rules specifically tailored to foundation models, with the goal of steering the development of very powerful artificial intelligence in a direction that is human-centric, safe and trustworthy,” the letter said.

“With the rapid evolution of powerful AI, we see the need for significant political attention,” the open letter says.

“Our actions and decisions can guide us into a world full of AI potentials, whereas inaction can widen the gap between the development of AI and our ability to steer it, leaving the door open to more challenging future scenarios,” the lawmakers added.

The lawmakers are tasked with crafting an updated version of a long-gestating piece of proposed EU legislation called the Artificial Intelligence Act.

The bill has been in development for more than two years.

The letter from the EU lawmakers surfaced weeks after billionaire Elon Musk and more than 1,000 experts in the AI field called for a six-month pause in the development of advanced systems.

In their letter, Musk and the experts warned of various potential risks that could emerge if AI continues its rapid advancements without guardrails in place – including the possible “loss of control of our civilization.”

The lawmakers referenced the experts’ concerns in their open letter.

ChatGPT has surged in popularity in recent months.
Future Publishing via Getty Images

“We share some of the concerns expressed in this letter, even while we disagree with some of its more alarmist statements,” the lawmakers said.

The EU officials suggested their legislation “could serve as a blueprint for other regulatory initiatives in different regulatory traditions and environments around the world.”

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the contents of the open letter, said the 12 signatories will meet this week to reach a consensus on an updated draft of the legislation.

Rapid advancements in AI are drawing regulatory scrutiny.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The bill would then be subject to a vote in European Parliament in May and, if approved, to negotiations with the European Council, which has crafted its own version of the legislation.

Musk’s warning came as a report surfaced that the mogul is planning to launch a new AI company called X.AI Corp.

Musk is the sole listed director of the Nevada-based company, according to the March 9 filing spotted by The Wall Street Journal

X.AI has authorized the sale of 100 million shares for its privately held business.

Meanwhile, US authorities have begun to consider potential regulations for the AI sector.

Last week, the Biden administration’s Commerce Department issued a request for public comment on accountability measures that would help ensure AI tools “work as claimed – and without causing harm.”

The move was widely seen as a precursor to formal regulation of the technology.

In an interview with “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai also expressed support for regulations that would protect the public from potential AI hazards, such as the spread of misinformation.

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