Artificial Intelligence Act welcome but unclear in places

The Artificial Intelligence Act, proposed in April 2021, sets out a risk-based legislative framework for artificial intelligence and prohibits some uses of artificial intelligence software entirely.

The European Parliament is due to discuss compromises on the proposed amendments soon. At the end of October, the European Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) and Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) will vote on their position, which the Parliament will adopt at its plenary session on 9 November 2022. Trilogue negotiations are expected to begin in December 2022.

In June 2021, and again in November 2022, FiCom issued an opinion on the Artificial Intelligence Act to the Finnish Parliament’s Transport and Communications Committee. In addition, our members were involved in drafting the joint position of ETNO and GSMA on the topic.

The European Commission’s proposed regulation is welcome, although it is unclear in many places and requires clarification. For example, the definition of an artificial intelligence system should only cover systems that can genuinely be considered artificial intelligence. The regulation should not apply to rule-based systems (also known as rule-based automation), irrespective of whether the rules are set by a person or optimised using data. The requirement is that the system output is transparent and predictable for humans.

Innovation should not be derailed by excessive regulation

Artificial intelligence applications are essential for innovation in the telecoms sector, especially during the transition to virtualised 5G networks. Fast connections are accelerating the digital transition in services and industrial processes and enabling a rapid expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT). The enormous amounts of data generated by IoT connections and devices will open the door to new growth opportunities in data analytics and artificial intelligence services.

Providers of digital networks are increasingly deploying artificial intelligence solutions, typically to improve their efficiency and reduce the carbon footprints of their network operations (through means such as preventive maintenance and energy efficiency). They also improve cybersecurity and the customer experience while enabling better product and service development. The telecommunications sector uses artificial intelligence applications, for example, to optimise network designs and B2B sales, smart pricing, and customer service. These use cases should continue to be allowed.

The telecommunications sector is at the heart of innovation in technologies that will shape our future digital society. It is also a pioneer in transparency and inclusion. The advances in artificial intelligence, IoT and 5G will create smarter connections. It is crucial to maintain users’ trust to enable these technologies to offer better connectivity for everyone. A digital society where everyone can adopt new tools offers fertile ground for continuous innovation in every sector.

Asko Metsola, Legal Affairs, FiCom