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Further European Union regulations on artificial intelligence with Poland’s objections in the background

In mid-October, the German Presidency of the European Union presented a draft “Conclusion on the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the Context of Artificial Intelligence and Digital Change.” The document is to be attached to the Charter of Fundamental Rights. It is a part of a discussion and a collection of important postulates, among others on the most beneficial use of the potential of artificial intelligence and defining ethical principles concerning its operation. It is a response to its dynamic development and wide range of applications, and thus the need to regulate its operation by legal principles and European values. The document was adopted as a German proposal with the support of 26 countries, rather than as an EU proposal of the EU Council, for which the approval of 27 countries was needed. As we read in the EU letter itself, one member state objected to the use of the phrase “gender equality” in the document. This country turned out to be Poland.

The less and less mysterious artificial intelligence (AI – artificial intelligence) is currently used in many areas of our lives. Business, entertainment, new technologies, health care, education, and everyday life are just some of the areas where this artificial reflection of the human mind has a wide range of possibilities. When algorithms have an impact on our finances, employment, health, privacy or politics, and the economy of countries it is necessary to control the consequences of their actions through, among others, legal regulations.

EU actions

The European Union is aware of the enormous potential of the use of AI and its impact on society and the economy, as well as the competition, mainly from the United States. Several demands and guidelines from EU bodies and activists are a response to these challenges.

On February 19 of this year. The European Commission published the “White Paper on Artificial Intelligence” as a guideline for action, the basis for future EU regulations and initiatives in the broader area of artificial intelligence application. The EU’s AI strategy, supported by the White Paper, is to develop digital sovereignty, innovation, competitiveness, and security for the European economy and society.

Artificial intelligence and rights and freedoms

Due to the special place of values and fundamental rights in EU regulations, it was decided that the issue of values and ethics in the use of artificial intelligence will be regulated by a separate document. The German presidency of the European Union recently presented the already mentioned draft “Conclusions on the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the Context of Artificial Intelligence and Digital Transformation”.

The importance of this document is confirmed, among other things, by the fact that the guidelines contained therein are to be the basis for the regulation of AI in the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which, being created 20 years ago, does not correspond to contemporary challenges in this area.

The challenges posed by the use of artificial intelligence are many, including in the context of countering discrimination by AI.

The case of Amazon, which recently abandoned the use of algorithms in its hiring process after it emerged that it favored the male gender, is well-known. The system, which for years received resumes sent mostly by men detected keywords appearing in applications of that gender, omitting female applications.

Increasingly, artificial intelligence is also deciding on access to health care, social benefits, or the allocation of various goods. Certainly, these decisions based on differences in gender, race, or religion would run counter to the principles of modern democratic states. But how to teach AI to respect the principles of ethics and equality developed over millennia of human history, and to guard against discrimination in various fields? Appropriate legal regulations, appropriate technological measures, and human oversight of AI systems are necessary.

Latest EU position

The latest EU position paper focuses on ensuring that future regulation and technological action serves to reconcile the dynamic development of artificial intelligence in the service of the economy and society with respect for democratic principles, the rule of law, shared values, and anti-discrimination. The paper emphasizes the significant importance of artificial intelligence in many areas of social life and the promotion of fundamental rights. It pointed out the importance of AI in improving and increasing access to public services, health care, protection of social rights, protection of consumer rights, or assistance in detecting and combating various types of threats by, among others, facilitating the work of law enforcement agencies. It was also pointed out that artificial intelligence will contribute to improving access to legal information and the course of judicial proceedings.

The threats posed by the development of new technologies and artificial intelligence in the context of human rights and freedoms were not ignored. Among them were mentioned cyber attacks, unequal treatment, illegal Internet content, the possibility of interference in the electoral process, disinformation campaigns. Special care was taken in regulating the operation of population surveillance systems, face detection, the selectivity of information provided by online platforms, or profiling.

The presented conclusions on the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the context of Artificial Intelligence and Digital Transformation are certainly another (after the release of the “White Paper on Artificial Intelligence”) important step in regulating the use of artificial intelligence and the operation of the digital world. As indicated at the end of the draft, they are a basis for defining the future legal and regulatory framework for AI, as well as an incentive for a broad common discussion in this area.

Importantly, the EU position strongly emphasizes the importance of a concerted effort to develop technical standards, appropriate safeguards, oversight of the operation of AI, and the development of regulation in this field. This is to ensure that the use of artificial intelligence is safe, respects rights and freedoms, including in particular the right to privacy, and is in compliance with ethical and non-discriminatory principles. As noted in the document, the European Union is firmly on the side of the broad use of the potential of artificial intelligence. It indicated that actions in this direction should be responsible and human-centered, carried out jointly as well as at the level of each Member State individually.

Poland’s Opposition

Poland was the only country in the EU to oppose this Community position on artificial intelligence. The reason was the word “gender” appearing in the text. As Poland’s ambassador to the EU Andrzej Sadoś explains: “Poland refers positively to many issues included in the draft conclusions on the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the context of artificial intelligence and digital change. However, neither the treaties nor the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU uses the concept of gender. Articles 2 and 3(3) TEU explicitly refer to equality between women and men, as does Article 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. This is why Poland proposed using a reference to equality between women and men instead of “gender equality” in point 2 of the conclusions due to lack of definition and unambiguous understanding. We can only hope that despite this “slip-up,” Poland will support the development of artificial intelligence and its regulations through, among other things, cooperation with European countries in this field.


“Conclusions on the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the context of artificial intelligence and digital transformation”-https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-11481-2020-INIT/pl/pdf

“White Paper on Artificial Intelligence A European Approach to Excellence and Trust”-https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-6266-2020-INIT/pl/pdf

#AI #artificial intelligence #digital transformation #European Union #freedom #opposition

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