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European Council passes landmark legislation to harmonize rules on Artificial Intelligence

The Council of the European Union has approved a landmark piece of legislation aimed at harmonizing rules on artificial intelligence across the EU.

Dubbed the Artificial Intelligence Act, this first-of-its-kind law follows a ‘risk-based’ approach, imposing stricter rules on AI systems that pose higher risks to society.

The legislation, which seeks to set a global standard for AI regulation, aims to promote the development and adoption of safe and trustworthy AI systems in the EU’s single market by both private and public sectors.

It also strives to protect the fundamental rights of EU citizens while encouraging investment and innovation in AI within Europe.

The AI Act applies only to areas within EU jurisdiction and includes exemptions for systems used exclusively for military and defense purposes, as well as for research.

The law categorizes AI systems based on their risk level. Low-risk AI systems will face minimal transparency obligations, while high-risk systems must meet stringent requirements and obligations to access the EU market.

Notably, the legislation bans certain AI applications considered to pose unacceptable risks, such as cognitive behavioral manipulation, social scoring, predictive policing based on profiling, and systems using biometric data to categorize individuals by race, religion, or sexual orientation.

The passage of the AI Act marks a significant step in global AI governance, potentially setting a benchmark for other regions to follow in balancing innovation with ethical considerations and societal safety.

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