Get Ready to Thrive in the Age of AI: The EU AI Act Explained!

26 April 2024

As we step into the era of artificial intelligence (AI), the European Union (EU) is seeking to pave the way for a responsible and dynamic future with the introduction of the EU AI Act (“Act”). This groundbreaking legal framework aims to ensure that AI development prioritises safety, ethics and benefits for all individuals within the EU.

Who’s Involved?

If you’re part of a business or an individual involved in the development, usage or sale of AI that impacts individuals within the EU, this Act concerns you. Whether you’re a developer, a user or a seller of AI-powered tools, it’s essential to understand its implications.

What’s Regulated?

The Act focuses on regulating AI systems that learn and adapt, influencing decisions or generating content. This includes technologies like chatbots, deepfakes, recommendation engines and more.

How Do I Comply?

Compliance with the Act depends on your role (developer, user, etc.) in the AI ecosystem and the risk level associated with your AI. The Act classifies AI into four categories:

  1. Unacceptable Risk (banned): AI that poses an unacceptable risk to EU citizens, such as being designed to manipulate individuals in harmful ways (think “evil AI” from the movies).
  2. High Risk (strict rules, requiring the most compliance): AI that creates high risks to EU citizens, such as impacting employment, law enforcement and similar areas (think hiring tools and facial recognition).
  3. Limited Risk (some rules): AI interacting with individuals, generating content or recognising emotions (think chatbots and basic image editing tools).
  4. Minimal/No Risk (fewest rules): AI with minimal impact, which sits outside of the other categories, such as simple automation tasks (think spam filters).

When Does This Happen?

The Act is expected to be adopted in May 2024, with most regulations coming into effect two years later. However, certain high-risk areas will have stricter deadlines. Existing AI systems may have longer compliance periods based on their type and when they entered the market.

What If I Don’t Comply?

Non-compliance with the Act can result in significant fines, with penalties of up to the greater of EUR 35 million or 7% of global annual turnover for the most severe breaches. However, the primary goal of the Act is to foster collaboration and build trust in AI technologies.

Embracing the Future

Despite some potential challenges, such as whether the strict requirements and potential lengthy approval processes will prove troublesome for AI businesses, the Act represents a positive step forward. It seeks to lay the groundwork for a future where AI benefits everyone while ensuring safety and ethical standards are upheld. By understanding the regulations and how they apply to your business, you can position your AI initiatives safely, ethically and so they are ready to thrive in this exciting new era.

Want to Learn More?

To ensure compliance with the Act and avoid any potential pitfalls, reach out to us for a no-obligation discussion tailored to your specific situation. Let’s work together to navigate the evolving landscape of AI regulation and embrace the opportunities it brings.

Christopher Perrin
Partner - Commercial, Technology, Outsourcing and Data