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Europe Set To Adopt World’s First Artificial Intelligence Law

The world’s first law governing artificial intelligence (AI) was today adopted by European lawmakers — a move that could have significant impact on film and TV production.

The Artificial Intelligence Act are an attempt to government how companies and individuals use AI, as use of generative systems such as ChatGPT becomes more widespread, creating issues around image manipulation and misinformation.

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After three years of work, 523 European Union lawmakers voted for the proposed agreement and just 49 voted against it (with 49 abstaining). Formal approval is now set to follow in March. Legislation will then begin early next year and apply from 2026.

Among the governing principles of the AI Law, “general purpose AI systems” (GPAIs) and the models they rely on must reach transparency thresholds that comply with EU copyright law. They will also have to publish “details summaries” of the content used to train the AI. The larger GPAIs will face tougher scrutiny, including “model evaluations, assessing and mitigating systemic risks, and reporting on incidents.”

The guidance will surely have an impact on the use of AI in professional TV and film production in Europe.

It comes on the same day that UK producers body Pact issues its own guidance around generative AI use. The organization is telling its members they follow a set of principles comprising respect of copyright, the valuing human creativity, taking responsibility and being accountable, supporting diversity and inclusion, and agreeing data should be protected.

The rules were developed in conjunction with an AI working group, considering how artificial intelligence can be used at each stage of the production process.

“AI has long been used in the TV and film industry, but this fast-moving technology brings with it risks as well as opportunities,” said John McVay. “That is why Pact has worked with AI experts to develop a framework for members to be able to assess the risks involved, as well as maximising the opportunities to continue to create quality content.”

Europe law goes far

The AI goes much further than copyright, however. Among its other directives, artificial and manipulated images, audio and deepfake videos will need to be clearly labelled.

Further regulation includes limiting biometric identification systems by law enforcement that scrape images from the internet or CCTV footage to make face identifications will be banned in “exhaustively listed and narrowly defined situations.” “Emotion recognition” in the workplace and schools, social scoring and predictive policing — profiling a person by their characteristics — are also out, as it AI that manipulates human behavior or exploits peoples’ vulnerabilities.

All “high-risk” AI systems — those that could harm health, safety, rights, the environment, democracy or the rule of law — have been given clear obligations. The must “assess and reduce risks, maintain use logs, be transparent and accurate, and ensure human oversight.” Citizens will be able to complain about AI systems and receive explanations about the use of the systems.

In a statement, Civil Liberties Committee co-rapporteur Dragos Tudorache said: “The EU has delivered. We have linked the concept of artificial intelligence to the fundamental values that form the basis of our societies.

“However, much work lies ahead that goes beyond the AI Act itself. AI will push us to rethink the social contract at the heart of our democracies, our education models, labour markets, and the way we conduct warfare. The AI Act is a starting point for a new model of governance built around technology. We must now focus on putting this law into practice”.

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