The European Union and the United States have announced their forthcoming release of a voluntary code of conduct on artificial intelligence (AI), aiming to establish unified standards among democratic countries.
The growing risks associated with AI, including potential impacts on privacy and civil liberties, have been a cause for concern expressed by both political and technology industry leaders.
Following discussions with EU officials in Sweden, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasised the urgent need for action, stating that Western partners recognise the imperative and would invite “like-minded countries” to join the voluntary code of conduct. Blinken acknowledged the common lag between the emergence of new technologies and the time it takes for governments and institutions to legislate or regulate them.
European Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager revealed that a draft of the code would be proposed “within weeks.” She stressed the importance of demonstrating that democracies can deliver and expressed a desire to involve a broad range of countries, including Canada, the UK, Japan, and India, to participate in the initiative.
During the Trade and Technology Council talks held in Lulea, Sweden, Sam Altman, representing OpenAI, which created the popular ChatGPT bot, was involved in the discussions. The Trade and Technology Council was established in 2021 to address trade frictions, with a particular focus on artificial intelligence.
In a joint statement by the White House and the European Commission, both sides recognised AI as a transformative technology with the potential for increasing prosperity and equity. However, they emphasised the need to mitigate its risks. Experts from the EU and the US will collaborate on AI standards, tools for trustworthy AI, and risk management.
While the EU has been progressing with the world’s first AI regulations, including bans on biometric surveillance and requirements for human control over technologies, concerns remain about China setting global AI standards due to its expertise and willingness to export to authoritarian countries. The US has not taken significant steps to regulate AI, but leaders in the technology industry, including Altman, have called for regulation to address the risks posed by AI.
The heightened transatlantic engagement on AI at the Sweden meeting was welcomed by the Computer and Communications Industry Association, which represents major technology firms. However, the association reiterated its opposition to EU fees or actions targeting foreign tech companies.