On June 14, 2023, European Union (EU) parliament members passed the Artificial Intelligence Act (the “EU AI Act”) which, if enacted, would be one of the first laws passed by a major regulatory body to regulate artificial intelligence.  It would also potentially serve as a model for policymakers here in the United States as Congress grapples with how to regulate artificial intelligence.

The EU AI Act would, among other things, restrict use of facial recognition software and require artificial intelligence developers to disclose details about the data they use with their artificial intelligence-powered software.  Artificial intelligence developers would be required to comply with transparency requirements that would require them to publish summaries of copyrighted materials used in their data sets and incorporate safeguards to prevent the generation of illegal material.  The AI Act would also ban companies from scraping biometric data to include in data sets.

The EU AI Act could have major implications for developers of generative artificial intelligence models.  Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI (creator of ChatGPT, DALL-E 2), recently testified before United States lawmakers and global policy makers calling for thoughtful and measured regulation of artificial intelligence. Altman has expressed concerns that the EU’s regulations could be overly restrictive, which may stem from OpenAI’s current policy of keeping its training materials secret.  A final version of the law  is expected to be passed later this year.

Although the European Union does not surpass the United States and China as a major player in artificial intelligence development, Brussels often plays a trend-setting role with regulations that eventually become de facto global standards. So far, the United States has only offered recommendations and guidance through certain federal agencies.  While there has been little effort to enact federal legislation comparable to the AI Act here in the United States, it appears that such regulatory scrutiny is forthcoming.

Indeed, just last month Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer met with a bi-partisan group of senators to take the initial steps in crafting legislation to regulate artificial intelligence.  As a result, artificial intelligence providers and consumers need to be very mindful of pending regulations and learn and understand any federal government guidance and/or recommendations.