generative AI, GenAI, AI regulation

The power of Artificial Intelligence is undeniable, and two powerful entities, the U.S. Government and the European Union (EU), have been collaborating for several years to address that capacity, and the potential of AI to yield broader mightiness in the future.

The sixth ministerial meeting of the Trade and Technology Council (TTC) took place in Leuven, Belgium, on April 4 and 5, 2024. The meeting focused on artificial intelligence, semiconductors, 6G and standardization, online platforms and secure connectivity. The Council was set up on June 15, 2021, and its first meeting was held on September 29, 2021.  The Council serves as a forum for the U.S. and the EU to coordinate approaches to key global trade, economic and technology issues and to deepen transatlantic trade and economic relations based on these shared values.

In terms of AI, the two groups “reaffirmed their commitment to a risk-based approach to AI and support for safe and trustworthy AI technologies, which will help find solutions to global challenges.”

In a press conference on April 5, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said, “When the United States and the European Union are aligned, when we are working a common purpose, it’s a very powerful force, together we represent almost half the world’s GDP, and that means there’s a certain weight that comes with having a shared position on something, and whether that’s dealing with China or any other challenge, it makes a big difference. And the story, to me at least, of TTC, is this growing alignment of all the issues…eluded to, and we found that again today, and I think it also inspires us to continue this work, because the more that we are able to build convergence in our approaches, the more effective we are going to be in making sure we are actually delivering results for the people we represent, that is what this is all about.”

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, who also attended the meeting, said the U.S. and the EU share the largest and most sophisticated trade relationship in the world.

“With respect to AI, I’ve traveled to this TTC with the new head of the U.S. AI Safety Institute.  She’s been on the job for six weeks and she’s here in Europe.  We’ve already launched a dialogue with the EU AI office.  So that is again a result of TTC and we will continue.  We will continue to do that work.  So, there is so much more to do.  As I just said, technology and the use of emerging technology has changed the game totally in economic security, in national security.  AI is changing the game again for everything and AI collaboration between their office and our Safety Institute is strong, will get stronger, all led by the TTC.”

E.U. Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager, said the collaboration between the U.S. and the EU has grown over the years, and the AI roadmaps are aligning between the U.S. AI Safety Institute and the EU AI Office.

“One of the first things we did in the first TTC was to align on how we view artificial intelligence, to agree on an approach of being risk-based, so not to approach the technology as the technology as such, and since we got started, oh my God, it has developed, but to look at the use cases,” VP Vestager said.  “It is a risky use case or a non-risky use case?  And I think that has shaped the approach from the very first day. We have had the AI roadmap that has been developed in order to put this understanding into something solid, and the most recent thing is the dialogue that we both think will lead to something much more tangible when it comes to the cooperation between the U.S. Safety Institute and our AI office. And I think it’s a great thing that we forged these collaborations, both with the UK and the U.S., eventually probably also us with the UK.  What we are starting here is something that we consider to be somewhat broader in scope because it is not just testing, it’s also everything that comes with it – so benchmarks, methodologies, how to understand, interpret regulatory approaches in both jurisdictions.  So, we embody on something that is larger.”

Ivana Bartoletti, Global Chief Privacy and AI Governance Officer at Wipro (a technology and IT consulting service), a gender and AI expert at the Council of Europe, and the Founder of the Women Leading in AI Network, said such collaboration is absolutely needed.

“It is great to see US – EU cooperation on AI policy and standards, and absolutely needed. The EU has enacted the EU AI Act and the US has just issued new requirements around AI for federal agencies, requirements that are far-reaching as they offer a pragmatic approach to AI governance which could act as a baseline way beyond public sector. The US and EU approaches are different, and this is actually a good thing. Cross-fertilization and reciprocal influence are needed as we work out what is the best way to govern this powerful technology.”

Ms. Bartoletti said the two approaches show “convergence on some key elements.”

“First, the focus on fairness, safety and robustness and, second, a strong commitment and solid actions to balance innovation and the concentration of power in large tech companies. These two points are very important as they go hand in hand. The US-EU partnership is also important to unleash further convergence at global scale: It is important that we settle on a global agreement, too, on reining in the risks AI poses to the world, from disinformation to bias. Finally, privacy and human dignity cannot be sacrificed to the altar on innovation, but innovation cannot be sacrificed either. So, we need pragmatic solutions to advance responsible innovation for the benefit of humanity,” Ms. Bartoletti said.

A study published on the EU’s website on April 5, titled “AI for Public Good: EU-U.S. Research in AI for the Public Good,”  pointed out some of the key areas where AI could potentially benefit several global challenges.

“This partnership builds upon the principles outlined in the Declaration for the Future of the Internet, aligning shared interests and values in harnessing emerging digital technologies to tackle global challenges. Through this groundbreaking initiative, EU-U.S. scientific cooperation in AI is channeled to foster innovative research that can set the groundwork to advance societal well-being. Over the past half-year, multidisciplinary teams from both sides of the Atlantic, comprising experts from diverse fields and a range of government agencies, have spent over 100 hours in scientific meetings discussing how to advance applications of AI in on-going projects and workstreams. The collaboration is making positive strides in a number of areas in relation to challenges like energy optimization, emergency response, urban reconstruction, and extreme weather and climate forecasting.”