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EU AI act: Meta, Amazon execs say Europe’s new AI law could harm innovation | CNN Business

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Benjamin Girette/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Yann LeCun, chief AI scientist at Meta, speaking at the Viva Technology conference in Paris on May 22, 2024.


Amazon and Meta executives told CNN this week that some of the fears about artificial intelligence are overblown and that the European Union’s sweeping new AI rules risk holding back innovation.

The EU gave the final green light to its AI act Tuesday, the same week tech leaders gathered in Paris for the annual VivaTech conference.

The first-of-its-kind law is poised to reshape how firms and other organizations in Europe use AI for everything from health care decisions to policing. It imposes blanket bans on using the technology in ways deemed “unacceptable” — for example, for social scoring.

The regulation also creates new disclosure obligations for large AI companies and requires more transparency on uses of AI considered “high-risk,” such as for education and hiring.

For Meta’s (META) AI chief, Yann LeCun, “the big question” about the new law is “should research and development in AI be regulated?”

“There are clauses in the EU AI act and various other places that do regulate research and development. I don’t think it’s a good idea,” he told CNN’s Anna Stewart at the Paris event.

LeCun, widely known as one of the “godfathers of AI,” disagrees with concerns that AI could soon surpass human intelligence.

“I don’t believe it’s anywhere close,” he said. “I don’t think it’s that dangerous, frankly, certainly not today.”

AI systems might become a lot smarter in the future but then they will be designed with appropriate safeguards, he added.

“But today, trying to figure out how to make future super-intelligent AI systems safe is like asking in 1925 ‘how do we make jet transport safe?’ And jet transport was not invented yet,” he said.

Amazon’s (AMZN) chief technology officer Werner Vogels echoed concerns that AI regulation could stifle innovation in some areas.

When thinking about risks, regulators should consider the application of the new technology to, for instance, health care and financial services differently from its use to summarize meetings, he told Stewart.

“There’s a whole range of areas where I think the risks are minimal and we should let innovation run there,” he said. In other areas, where mistakes can have a bigger impact on people’s lives, risks should be managed “uniquely for that particular area.”

Vogels stressed that Amazon welcomes regulation, and is aligned with regulators in their overall goals, but warned the EU against overregulating AI, pointing to the example of its signature data privacy law, known as GDPR, which he described as a very “thick” book.

“Let’s make sure that the regulatory requirements that we put in place, companies — not just the largest company but every company in Europe — can actually implement,” he said.

“We need to make sure that innovation continues to happen and that the innovation doesn’t just come outside Europe. We already have a very long history in Europe of underinvesting in R&D,” he added.

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