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Businesses, tech groups warn EU against over-regulating AI foundation models

Businesses and tech groups on Thursday warned the European Union against over-regulating artificial intelligence systems known as foundation models in upcoming AI rules as this could kill nascent start-ups or drive them out of the region.

The plea came as EU countries and EU lawmakers head into the final stretch of negotiations on rules that could set the benchmark for other countries.

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One of the biggest bones of contention is foundation models, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which are AI systems that are trained on large sets of data, with the ability to learn from new data to perform a variety of tasks.

“For Europe to become a global digital powerhouse, we need companies that can lead on AI innovation also using foundation models and GPAI,” DigitalEurope, whose members include Airbus, Apple, Ericsson, Google, LSE and SAP, said in a letter.

“As European digital industry representatives, we see a huge opportunity in foundation models, and new innovative players emerging in this space, many of them born here in Europe. Let’s not regulate them out of existence before they get a chance to scale, or force them to leave.”

Thirty-two European digital associations also signed the letter. GPAI refers to general-purpose artificial intelligence.

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The signatories, who said just 3% of the world’s AI unicorns come from the European Union, backed a joint proposal by France, Germany and Italy to limit the scope of AI rules for foundation models to transparency requirements. They also said the current broad scope of the draft AI rules could clash with existing legislation in certain sectors such as healthcare.

“We are increasingly frustrated at what we see as a lack of interest in the effects on the medical sector. Our impression is that people don’t care about the content any more, they just want to get it done. We are simply collateral damage,” said spokesperson Georgina Prodhan at Siemens Healthineers.

The companies also rebuffed calls from creative industries for the AI rules to tackle copyright issues.

“The EU’s comprehensive copyright protection and enforcement framework already contains provisions that can help address AI-related copyright issues, such as the text and data mining exemption and corresponding,” they said.

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