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July 20, 2023
4m 39s

AI Act: A Deep Dive into the Future of AI regulation - Part 2

The second part of our series on the European Union's upcoming AI Act discusses the definition of artificial intelligence as proposed by the European Commission's draft. In order to understand what pieces of software the AI Act applies to, it's important to nail the the definition of what an AI system is and what are the different manifestations of AI regulated by the AI Act. .


[00:00:01] Welcome to the second part of our MOSTLY AI video series on the draft EU AI Act.

[00:00:08] Today we will focus on the legal definition of an AI system. While it is commonly believed that lawyers love definitions, I personally would not go so far as to confess my love. Yet, I definitely do acknowledge the appeal of a well-crafted legal definition.

[00:00:25] Before we look at the AI Act's legal definition of an AI system, I want to highlight that, as already said in our first video, the AI Act is still in the making therefore the definition we are about to discuss might still change.

[00:00:42] Also, you might ask why does he make such a big fuss about definitions. Well, simply put, the AI Act applies to AI systems. Therefore, we need to understand what qualifies as an AI system to know whether the act is applicable in a specific case. If I don't know what I'm talking about, I can't apply EU rules to it.

[00:01:03] We find the latest definition of an AI system in Article 3(1) of the draft AI Act as proposed by the EU parliament. As a side note, the parliament closely aligned its definition with the definition proposed by the OECD.

[00:01:20] Since AI is a worldwide phenomenon, it makes sense to find common definitions wherever possible. Now, the current Article 3(1) states that artificial intelligence system, or AI, system means a machine-based system that is designed to operate with varying levels of autonomy and that can for explicit or implicit objectives, generate outputs such as predictions, recommendations, or decisions that influence physical or virtual environments.

[00:01:49] Usually, the first thing you do after reading a more complex legal definition is you read it again. Artificial intelligence system means a machine-based system. This is deliberately broad and means that not just current forms of software are included in the definition, but it could also include any other potential future AI developments.

[00:02:13] Now let's read on. An AI system is designed to operate with varying levels of autonomy. Autonomy means without human involvement, so a machine-based system operating to some level without human involvement.

[00:02:31] An AI system generates outputs that influence physical or virtual environments, so the AI output also has to have an impact of some sort. It does not have to only affect physical matters, but could also only affect virtual surroundings.

[00:02:49] If we compare the initial definition proposed by the Commission in its draft of 2021 with the latest definition proposed by the EU parliament, we notice that the Commission's definition displayed here on the left was a lot broader than the parliament's definition which we see here on the right.

[00:03:08] Some argued that the Commission's definition encompassed any simple search algorithm. Even Excel, when using a statistical formula, because it's a software that generates an output based on a statistical approach, and a statistical approach was indeed listed in Annex I.

[00:03:28] This might influence the environment it interacts with, whatever that was supposed to mean exactly. Now, while the definition of an AI system is still being discussed, I think it's safe to say that we will not see a return to the Commission's initial proposal.

[00:03:44] One more thing. An AI system can come in many forms. It can be a standalone system integrated into a physical product, it can be used to serve the functionality of a physical product without being embedded therein, or it can be an AI component of a larger system.

[00:04:03] If, however, the larger system would not function at all without the AI component, the entire large system qualifies as an AI system. That's it.

[00:04:14] In the next videos, we will dive deeper and look at different subcategories and applications of AI systems that trigger.

[00:04:22] different obligations under the AI Act.

[00:04:24] Foundation models, general purpose AI, and generative AI.

[00:04:27] Until then, I leave you with a captivating picture

[00:04:30] of a happy lawyer having just drafted a complex legal definition.

[00:04:35] Thanks for watching.

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