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Estonian MEP satisfied with EU law on use of Artificial Intelligence

Andrus Ansip MEP.
Andrus Ansip MEP. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Andrus Ansip (Reform), one of Estonia's seven MEPs, says he is satisfied with the content of the European Union's newly adopted Artificial Intelligence Act, which sets out the conditions under which Artiicial intelligence (AI) may and may not be used in, for instance, facial recognition tech.

Ansip, who was Estonian prime minister 2005 to 2014 and EU commissioner for the digital single market, 2014-2019, said: "The EU is the first [jurisdiction] to have enshrined in law what is permitted and what is prohibited, with regard to artificial intelligence."

"It proscribes certain areas where artificial intelligence cannot be used," he went on, adding that these included grouping people based on their religious beliefs or creeds, sexual orientation and other indicators.

"Plus this is also the first such code of conduct written into any law worldwide. This means that most likely and to some extent, this will be taken up elsewhere in the world also," the MEP continued.

At the same time, the discussion still needs to be ongoing, Ansip said, noting that debates at the Brussels parliament had been "heated," and had moderated the European Council's line on AI.

An absolute ban would be unwise in any case, Ansip said, since AI could prove invaluable in, for instance, facial recognition tech in real time and in public places when searching for a known terrorist.

These should remain exceptional cases, and must require special permission from the courts, Ansip added.

"In the current agreement, it is still permissible to utilize AI in several cases and in the interests of national security, so I think reason won out," Ansip summarized.

Earlier this month, MEPs reached a political deal with the European Council on a bill to ensure AI in Europe is safe, respects fundamental rights and democracy, while businesses can thrive and expand.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov.

Source: ERR Radio news, interviewer Mall Mälberg.

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