EU lawmakers call for a new set of rules for A.I. tools such as ChatGPT

Ursula von der Leyen (CDU, member of the EPP group), President of the European Commission, addresses the European Parliament, May 4, 2022.
Philipp von Ditfurth | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

A group of a dozen lawmakers for the European Union called for a new set of rules to regulate a larger swath of artificial intelligence tools, beyond those identified as explicitly high risk under the region’s proposed AI Act.

In an open letter Monday, the members of parliament also called for international cooperation in crafting guardrails on the development of AI tools, which industry experts have warned could become dangerously powerful without proper precautions.

The letter comes after a group of prominent AI experts called for Europe to make its AI rules more expansive, arguing that excluding general purpose AI, or GPAI, would miss the mark. General purpose AI includes broad tools such as ChatGPT that might not be designed with a high-risk use in mind but could nonetheless be used in settings that elevate their risks.

In the open letter, lawmakers acknowledged that while the AI Act is directed at high-risk AI use cases, “we also need a complementary set of preliminary rules for the development and deployment of powerful General Purpose AI systems that can be easily adapted to a multitude of purposes.”

The lawmakers reference another recent letter from the Future of Life Institute, signed by billionaire Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang, among many others. In that letter, technology leaders called for a minimum six-month pause on training AI systems more powerful than OpenAI’s most recent large language model, GPT-4.

“We share some of the concerns expressed in this letter, even while we disagree with some of its more alarmist statements,” the members of parliament wrote. “We are nevertheless in agreement with the letter’s core message: with the rapid evolution of powerful AI, we see the need for significant political attention.”

They pledged to provide a set of rules within the AI Act framework to steer AI development in a “human-centric, safe, and trustworthy” way. They also called on European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and U.S. President Joe Biden to convene a global Summit on Artificial Intelligence where they would agree on preliminary governing principles for the “development, control, and deployment” of AI.

The lawmakers said both democratic and non-democratic countries should be called on “to exercise restraint and responsibility in their pursuit of very powerful artificial intelligence.” And they advocated for AI labs and companies to maintain a sense of responsibility and to increase transparency and dialogue with regulators.

“Our message to industry, researchers, and decision-makers, in Europe and worldwide, is that the development of very powerful artificial intelligence demonstrates the need for attention and careful consideration,” they wrote. “Together, we can steer history in the right direction.”

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