EU pushes Asian countries to regulate AI tech companies, said to get lukewarm response

EU pushes Asian countries to regulate AI tech companies, said to get lukewarm response

The European Union is pressing Asian countries to follow its example in artificial intelligence in adopting new rules for tech companies that include disclosing copyrighted and AI-generated content, according to senior EU and Asian officials.

The EU and its member states have sent officials to talks on how to govern the use of AI with at least 10 Asian countries, including India, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and the Philippines, they said.

The bloc aims for its proposed AI Act to become a global benchmark on burgeoning technology and the way its data protection laws have helped shape global privacy standards.

However, the effort to convince Asian governments of the need for tough new rules is being met with a lukewarm reception, seven people close to the discussions told Reuters.

Many countries prefer a “wait and see” approach or are moving towards a more flexible regulatory regime.

The officials asked not to be named because the discussions, the extent of which was not previously reported, remained confidential.

Singapore, one of Asia’s leading technology hubs, prefers to see how technology evolves before adopting local regulations, an official in the city-state told Reuters. Officials in Singapore and the Philippines have expressed concern that overly rash regulation could stifle AI innovation.

As Reuters reported last month, Southeast Asian countries are drafting voluntary guidelines. Japan, meanwhile, is leaning towards more lenient rules than the strict approach championed by the EU as it seeks technology to spur economic growth and make it a leader in advanced chips.

Efforts in Asia are part of a global effort by European nations that includes talks with countries including Canada, Turkey and Israel, Dutch digital minister Alexandra van Huffelen told Reuters in an interview.

“We are trying to figure out how we can make the EU regulation copy, enforce and mirror… as it is with the GDPR,” van Huffelen said late last month, referring to the General Data Protection Regulation, a regime of data privacy.

The emergence of AI has been hailed as a breakthrough that will usher in an era of rapid advances in science and technology, revolutionizing all aspects of human activity, but also portrayed as an existential threat.

EU lawmakers agreed in June to a pioneering set of draft rules that would make companies like ChatGPT operator OpenAI release AI-generated content, help distinguish so-called deep fake images from real ones, and ensure safeguards against illegal content.

The proposed legislation, which also provides for financial fines for rule violations, has faced resistance from business, with 160 executives last month signing a letter warning it could undermine Europe’s competitiveness, investment and innovation.

Still, EU officials, who have signed “digital partnerships” with Japan, South Korea and Singapore, express optimism they can find common ground with international partners to advance cooperation on technologies, including AI.

“Our mission is again to make sure what’s happening in the EU, which is our big constituency, so to speak, is protected,” EU industry chief Thierry Breton told Reuters during a trip to South Korea and to Japan to discuss AI and semiconductors. .

“I think it probably won’t be too far from each other because we share the same values,” Breton said of AI regulation in the EU and countries like Japan.

Leaders from the Group of Seven (G7) economies of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain, the United States and the European Union in May called for standards to create “trusted” AI and to create a ministerial forum dubbed the “Hiroshima AI process”.

Seoul will continue to discuss AI regulation with the EU but is more interested in what the G7 is doing, a South Korean official said after a meeting with Breton.

The EU plans to use upcoming G20 meetings to further boost global AI collaboration, most notably with India’s president in 2023, van Huffelen told Reuters.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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