MEPs call for greater regulation of AI discrimination

30.03.2021, Euractiv 

The European Parliament’s culture and education committee endorsed on 15 March an opinion calling for a framework to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) in order to “reduce gender, social or cultural bias in technology”, and the Commission is expected to propose a legislative framework on the matter in April.

Concerned about the impact that the use of artificial intelligence technologies can have on “the backbone of our society’s fundamental values and rights”, the European Parliament’s culture and education committee called for increased regulation in the text.

In its opinion, adopted with 25 votes in favour and four abstentions, lawmakers stressed that “to be ethical, AI must be developed, deployed and used in a sustainable and socially responsible manner, following a gender equality strategy, respecting cultural diversity, promoting digital literacy, closing the digital gap and safeguarding intellectual property rights.”

The group also noted that “the crucial importance of a coherent vision and strategy at Union level in order to achieve a genuine digital single market within an AI-powered society that would fully benefit users.”

While MEPs said they want to fight against the use of biased data that could reproduce or deepen existing gender inequalities or societal discrimination, MEPs also called for a “clear ethical framework” to ensure cultural and linguistic diversity in culture and media – by regulating algorithm-based content recommendations for streaming services for example – to preserve European diversity.

“We have fought for decades to assert our values of inclusion, non-discrimination, multilingualism, and cultural diversity which our citizens consider essential to our European identity. These values must also be reflected online”, said the opinion’s rapporteur, Sabine Verheyen (EPP), after the vote.

The opinion, which has yet to be adopted in the plenary, follows the EU AI White Paper which called for a “European approach of excellence and trust”.

The Commission is expected to propose a legislative framework on the subject in April.

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