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Unpacking the Ethics of the European Commission’s AI Act Proposal: Examining the Objectives, Public Consultation, and Speed Paradigm

The European Commission has proposed a new AI Act that aims to regulate the development and use of Artificial Intelligence in Europe. However, the Act’s ethical grounding has been called into question by many experts. In this blog post, we will explore the development process of the AI Act proposal and the aims and conceptual vision embedded within it, specifically from an ethical perspective.

As seen in the paper ‘Some Ethical Reflections on the EU AI Act’ it is often argued that ethics and law should be invoked together when discussing AI regulation. However, this may not always be the best approach, particularly when examining the AI Act proposal. After reflecting on the Act’s provisions, there are several reasons to reject the claim that the AI Act is ethically grounded.

As Marc M. Anderson from Université de Lorraine mentions, one issue is the proposal’s characterization of the objectives of the AI Act. While the Act aims to promote the ethical development and use of AI, it is unclear how this will be achieved in practice. The Act lacks a clear definition of what constitutes ethical AI, leaving it open to interpretation and potential misuse. At the same time, another concern is the proposal’s vision and use of public consultation. While the Act calls for public input and feedback, it is not clear how this feedback will be incorporated into the final regulations. The Act also lacks a mechanism for ongoing public consultation, which is essential for ensuring that the regulations remain relevant and effective over time.

Finally, the proposal’s embedding of the “speed paradigm” in both the regulatory process and the view of AI as a technology raises ethical concerns. The Act aims to promote innovation and the rapid development of AI, but at what cost? The focus on speed may lead to the neglect of important ethical considerations, such as data privacy, fairness, and accountability.

In conclusion, the AI Act proposal may not be as ethically grounded as it claims to be. To ensure that the Act promotes the ethical development and use of AI, it is essential to address the issues raised here and incorporate ongoing public consultation and feedback. Additionally, the Act should prioritize ethical considerations over the “speed paradigm” to ensure that AI is developed and used in a responsible and ethical manner.

Read the full paper.