What can the EU be taught from Asia about AI rules? – DW – 02/08/2024 | EUROtoday

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Southeast Asia has revealed its long-awaited synthetic intelligence (AI) governance and ethics tips that map out a voluntary and light-touch imaginative and prescient of how nationwide governments can constrain the worst features of this new know-how but revenue economically from its advance.

The ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed to the rules, which have been first drafted final yr, on the 4th ASEAN Digital Ministers’ Meeting in Singapore earlier this month.

Southeast Asia’s extra business-friendly strategy to AI regulation may trigger some upset throughout the European Union (EU). The bloc has been lobbying for different components of the world to align with its personal stricter proposed framework, the AI Act, which Brussels has dubbed the world’s first complete AI regulation.

A display shows a vehicle and person recognition system for law enforcement
It is tough for ASEAN members to seek out frequent floor on the right way to handle doubtlessly dangerous AI-generated content material, analysts sayImage: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Many companies oppose Brussels’ laws

EU officers have been despatched to a dozen Asian nations, together with Singapore and the Philippines, final summer time to persuade nationwide governments to again its extra strident AI guidelines, which can pressure firms to reveal whether or not they have used AI-generated content material, guarantee safeguards in opposition to unlawful content material and impose monetary penalties for guidelines violations, Reuters reported final yr.

Brussels is especially involved concerning the potential harm AI-generated content material may trigger to democracy and human rights, in addition to social harms such because the unfold of pretend sexually specific pictures.

Ironically, EU member states formally backed the AI Act at a gathering on February 2, the identical day that ASEAN launched its tips. The EU’s laws will head to a ultimate vote within the European Parliament in March or April and may very well be ratified by the summer time.

Many throughout the EU had hoped that ASEAN would lean a lot nearer to its AI rules in the identical means that Brussels’ knowledge safety legal guidelines supplied a template for ASEAN’s guidelines.

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Much of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, handed in 2016 to handle info privateness and human rights, has been copied by laws handed by Southeast Asian nations. The EU and ASEAN launched a joint set of tips final June on how worldwide companies may adjust to cross-border private knowledge switch.

However, Brussels’ AI laws has acquired pushback from the enterprise group. Some 160 executives signed a letter in June 2023 warning that its laws may jeopardize Europe’s competitiveness, funding and innovation.

The significance of avoiding over-regulation

ASEAN states, cautious of affecting enterprise confidence and conscious of the problem of discovering consensus amongst themselves over points like censorship due to their disparate political programs, have for now taken a voluntary, gentler strategy.

The bloc’s members embrace liberal democracies in addition to one-party communist states, and so they have disparate laws on censorship and mental property, making it tough for them to seek out frequent floor on the right way to handle doubtlessly dangerous AI-generated content material, analysts say.

They additionally vary from superior economies with already established and thriving tech sectors, similar to Singapore, to nations the place entry to the web is comparatively new to most of society and the place digital literacy is low.

Smaller nations and growing areas of the world need to keep away from over-regulation as this would possibly “constrain innovation or drive it elsewhere,” stated Simon Chesterman, an skilled on AI on the National University of Singapore.

Singapore was the primary Southeast Asian state to launch a National AI Strategy in 2019, and final December launched its National AI Strategy 2.0. The identical month, Indonesia’s authorities stated it might quickly suggest its personal nationwide AI laws.

According to the brand new ASEAN tips, governments within the area ought to nurture AI expertise and upskill workforces whereas investing extra in analysis and improvement.

“AI systems should be treated differently from other software systems because of its unique characteristics and risks,” states the 87-page ASEAN Guide on AI Governance and Ethics which was launched on February 2.

“Given the profound impact that AI potentially brings to organisations and individuals in ASEAN, it is important that the decisions made by AI are aligned with national and corporate values, as well as broader ethical and social norms,” it added.

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Kan Min Yen, an affiliate professor of the National University of Singapore’s School of Computing, stated that Southeast Asia’s rules should not a lot “loose” as they’re “less specific” than laws proposed by the EU.

“Southeast Asia is a more diverse region in terms of its digital ecosystem compared to the relative maturity of the EU,” he added.

“With emergent nations and infrastructure, strict regulation may be overly taxing to implement and oversee for ASEAN governments, as well as startups and multinational corporations.”

Josh Lee, Asia-Pacific managing director of the Future of Privacy Forum, concurs. Most Southeast Asian governments have taken “an incremental and soft approach to AI regulation, focusing on voluntary guidelines and codes of conduct, rather than hard law.”

However, Lee famous that this won’t essentially be the case sooner or later. ASEAN members, he stated, haven’t dominated out enacting complete nationwide AI regulation much like the EU’s AI Act.

In December 2023, the Indonesian authorities introduced plans to enact a complete nationwide AI regulation in some unspecified time in the future in future, and there stays the chance that the area’s governments may agree on a stricter and legally binding regulatory framework.

Speaking on the World Economic Forum in January, the speaker of the Philippine Congress, Martin Romualdez, stated that Manila desires the regional bloc to undertake a framework much like its personal draft laws.

Romualdez stated that Manila may search to engineer such laws when it holds the yearly rotating chairmanship of the ASEAN bloc in 2026.

Analysts say that a lot depends upon what occurs throughout the EU: Can the bloc’s more durable, legally binding guidelines constrain the possibly adverse features of AI with out jeopardizing the fortunes of tech firms?

“Policymakers in Southeast Asia will be paying close attention to how the EU AI Act is implemented and what impact it will have on Europe’s digital economy,” Lee stated.

Edited by: Keith Walker