PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron called Wednesday for boosting the development of artificial intelligence in Europe while putting in place “smart” regulations that don’t impede tech companies’ growth.
Macron, who visited Europe’s biggest startup and tech event Vivatech, said “we’re too far behind in terms of innovation and we’re regulating too slowly.” He said France and the EU are lagging behind UK and the world’s biggest players, the U.S. and China.
His comments came as lawmakers in Europe signed off Wednesday on the world’s first set of comprehensive rules for artificial intelligence.
It could be years before the rules fully take effect. Three-way negotiations involving EU member states, the Parliament and the European Commission, are still to take place.
Macron praised EU talks as a “good debate” but said that by the time rules are released, “we’ll have regulated on presuppositions and knowledge that are almost already obsolete.” He added he was “very cautious” about making regulations “too rigid.”
Rapid advances in chatbots like ChatGPT have shown the benefits the emerging technology can bring — and the new perils it poses.
Macron also called for broader talks that include the UK and the United States. He suggested Paris-based organizations UNESCO, the UN cultural agency, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) should be involved in such discussions.
He said he will meet Friday in Paris with billionaire Elon Musk, who owns Twitter, Tesla and SpaceX, to discuss rules needed in artificial intelligence and social media sectors. The meeting will focus on “promoting France and Europe’s attractiveness,” he said.
Musk is scheduled to speak at Vivatech on Friday.
The EU regulations, first proposed in 2021, aim to govern any product or service that uses an artificial intelligence system. The measure will classify AI systems according to four levels of risk, from minimal to unacceptable.
Riskier applications, including tech targeted at children, will face tougher requirements, including being more transparent and using accurate data.
Image credits: Yoan Valat, Pool via AP