How the EU’s artificial intelligence regulation could stall innovation

It was all over the press a few days ago, but some topics sometimes need to be allowed to mature to see if they take on other facets. The EU is working on a regulation for artificial intelligence. Not a bad project in itself, but while some topics, such as facial recognition and surveillance using AI are understandable, the regulation will also deal with topics that are partly unregulable or that do not involve malice.

So is this regulation a way forward or more of an obstacle on the road ahead? The opinion written here is a comment and please, dear readers, understand it as such, because it is my opinion, which does not have to agree with the majority.

The new EU regulation provides, among other things, for chatbots that are not clearly marked as such to be withdrawn from circulation. There are already – and here one of my favorite examples is also one of them – systems that are almost indistinguishable from humans. Google’s Duplex, for example, has impressively shown what the future of Alexa, Siri and co. could look like. The EU, however, sees it with less enthusiasm and wants to ban three topics altogether.



First, systems that collect data on social behavior and personality and use it for analysis. Banks, for example, already use these when they grant loans. In this case, you can see the goal very well, because such analysis can also be used to manipulate people and do bad things to them. But at the same time, it can help companies to see through processes better or tailor suitable offers for the user.

The second type of systems are those of facial recognition. We know a lot of negative examples from China here, but many AI systems use facial recognition to identify the user in order to address them more personally and individually. Just as we know it from Hollywood movies to some extent.

The third system is all-encompassing titled manipulation, but at the same time the regulation here means not only the artificial intelligence that is used to maliciously override humans, but also the one that offers recommendations and tailored content – for example, the Netflix algorithm to shows that we might also like.

In my eyes, this is all very one-sided, one-dimensional, and visionless thinking. There is, of course, a good and important reason to ban manipulation machines or limit surveillance. On the other hand, however, it must also be clearly stated that we cannot fundamentally ban progress. The world is not black or white, but full of shades of gray and one would hardly dare to say it – colors. Basically banning all systems or imposing strict conditions on them will set back the innovation landscape of the EU by years and simply stop many things that make our lives easier, safer and also more efficient.

Innovations and novelties should be taken with a grain of salt. They should be considered from an ethical point of view. They should be communicated transparently to the general public. But banning them is the completely wrong way and shows how such topics are unfortunately treated too often after all. I would like the EU to be open to the future instead of simply raising its finger lecturingly and banning it. We live in a dynamic world. We need rules, we need a code or a manifesto – but we don’t need thoughtless bans…

Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker is an innovation profiler, future strategist and media expert who helps companies understand the opportunities behind technologies such as artificial intelligence for the next five to ten years. He is the founder of the consulting firm "Alexander Pinker - Innovation Profiling", the innovation marketing agency "innovate! communication" and the news platform "Medialist Innovation". He is also the author of three books and a lecturer at the Technical University of Würzburg-Schweinfurt.

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