EU guidelines on ethics in artificial intelligence: Context and implementation

19-09-2019

The discussion around artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and their impact on society is increasingly focused on the question of whether AI should be regulated. Following the call from the European Parliament to update and complement the existing Union legal framework with guiding ethical principles, the EU has carved out a 'human-centric' approach to AI that is respectful of European values and principles. As part of this approach, the EU published its guidelines on ethics in AI in April 2019, and European Commission President-elect, Ursula von der Leyen, has announced that the Commission will soon put forward further legislative proposals for a coordinated European approach to the human and ethical implications of AI. Against this background, this paper aims to shed some light on the ethical rules that are now recommended when designing, developing, deploying, implementing or using AI products and services in the EU. Moreover, it identifies some implementation challenges and presents possible further EU action ranging from soft law guidance to standardisation to legislation in the field of ethics and AI. There are calls for clarifying the EU guidelines, fostering the adoption of ethical standards and adopting legally binding instruments to, inter alia, set common rules on transparency and common requirements for fundamental rights impact assessments, and to provide an adequate legal framework for face recognition technology. Finally, the paper gives an overview of the main ethical frameworks for AI under development in countries such as the United States and China.

The discussion around artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and their impact on society is increasingly focused on the question of whether AI should be regulated. Following the call from the European Parliament to update and complement the existing Union legal framework with guiding ethical principles, the EU has carved out a 'human-centric' approach to AI that is respectful of European values and principles. As part of this approach, the EU published its guidelines on ethics in AI in April 2019, and European Commission President-elect, Ursula von der Leyen, has announced that the Commission will soon put forward further legislative proposals for a coordinated European approach to the human and ethical implications of AI. Against this background, this paper aims to shed some light on the ethical rules that are now recommended when designing, developing, deploying, implementing or using AI products and services in the EU. Moreover, it identifies some implementation challenges and presents possible further EU action ranging from soft law guidance to standardisation to legislation in the field of ethics and AI. There are calls for clarifying the EU guidelines, fostering the adoption of ethical standards and adopting legally binding instruments to, inter alia, set common rules on transparency and common requirements for fundamental rights impact assessments, and to provide an adequate legal framework for face recognition technology. Finally, the paper gives an overview of the main ethical frameworks for AI under development in countries such as the United States and China.