Thursday, June 20, 2024

European Union launches new AI Office

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The EU is set to open its AI Office following the application of its recent world-first comprehensive law on Artificial Intelligence.

The EU will launch its AI Office, responsible for tasks such as ensuring the coherent implementation of the AI Act, from 16 June. The AI Office will directly enforce the rules for general-purpose AI models – foundational AI models that can be used for a wide range of purposes, some of which may be unknown to the developer, such as OpenAI’s GPT-4.

The AI Office will collaborate with AI developers, the scientific community, Member States and the wider expert community across Europe. At EU-level, the AI Office will work closely with the European Artificial Intelligence Board composed of representatives of Member States. 

It will coordinate the creation of codes of practice, conduct testing and evaluation for general-purpose AI models, request information, and apply sanctions when necessary. 

The AI Office will promote an innovative EU ecosystem for trustworthy AI, providing advice on best practices and enabling access to AI sandboxes, real-world testing and other European support structures for AI uptake. These include the Testing and Experimentation Facilities in AI, the European Digital Innovation Hubs, and the AI Factories.

Lucilla Sioli, Director for AI and Digital Industry within the European Commission, will formally lead the AI Office in five units with around 140 experts. 

The five units of the AI Office

  1. Regulation and Compliance Unit

The Regulation and Compliance Unit coordinates the regulatory approach to facilitate the uniform application and enforcement of the AI Act across the Union, working closely with Member States. The unit will contribute to investigations and possible infringements, administering sanctions.

  1. Unit on AI Safety

The Unit on AI safety focuses on the identification of systemic risks of very capable general-purpose models, possible mitigation measures and evaluation and testing approaches.

  1. Excellence in AI and Robotics Unit

The Excellence in AI and Robotics Unit supports and funds research and development to foster an ecosystem of excellence. It coordinates the GenAI4EU initiative, stimulating the development of models and their integration into innovative applications.

  1. AI for Societal Good Unit

The AI for Societal Good Unit will design and implement the international engagement of the AI Office in AI for good, such as weather modelling, cancer diagnoses and digital twins for reconstruction.

  1. AI Innovation and Policy Coordination Unit 

The AI Innovation and Policy Coordination Unit oversees the execution of the EU AI strategy, monitoring trends and investment, stimulating the uptake of AI through a network of European Digital Innovation Hubs and the establishment of AI Factories, and fostering an innovative ecosystem by supporting regulatory sandboxes and real-world testing.

The EU AI Act in brief

While the AI Act was approved in March, there are still a few steps to be taken before businesses must abide by its regulations. The EU AI Act must be published in the EU Official Journal, which is expected to happen by July this year. It will come into force 20 days after publication, but requirements will roll out in stages across 24 months. The AI Office is due to publish guidelines on the definition of AI systems and the prohibitions within six months of the AI act entering into force, and codes of practice within nine months.

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