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Artificial Intelligence regulation to govern technological changes

  • Roma
  • 29 February 2024

        Artificial Intelligence (AI) is proving to have an exceptional ability to shape the digital revolution, triggering major transformations in the economy and the society. Indeed, digital technology not only boosts or simply augments reality but is also capable of radically transforming it by creating new environments and ways of acting within them. The global challenge therefore is not only how to encourage innovation but also, and above all, how to govern it.

        The entire world is moving in this direction, and the European AI Act represents a significant step forward in this sense. Nevertheless, regulation lags seriously behind structurally as compared with the technology’s increasingly rapid evolution; the European Commission’s first proposal in 2021 made no mention of Generative AI, which instead now occupies center stage in the public debate.

        In order to ensure effectiveness, flexibility and adequacy then, the European framework must install appropriate national level oversight, and it is therefore urgent that Italy appoint an independent AI authority. 

        Independent authorities function as defenders of constitutional interests in socially significant areas.  The importance that AI is assuming in the daily lives of citizens, as well as the risks associated with its use – starting with the spread of false information –, call for the creation of a new, autonomous authority with a holistic view of the entire value chain, both public and private. Moreover, given the need for broad collaboration with the various existing regulating authorities, a single entity capable of more than the mere implementation of European regulations is also the best strategy for facilitating Italy’s interaction on a European and international scenario in continuous technological and legislative evolution.

        Parallel to Europe, other major actors have taken steps to confront the challenges of governing the sector. China has disciplined specific aspects of AI, and is planning to adopt a universal law in this area; the United States, with its executive order of October 2023, has pointed to the possibility of using these technologies within the context of the federal administration, with a view to encouraging data flow and transparency as well as mitigating threats to both national security and consumers. 

        Also in 2023, the United Kingdom published a white book defining the objectives of AI regulation; others, such as India, are working on similar projects, some that even contain controversial aspects such as the introduction of a government mechanism to control AI-generated “fake news”. 

        The challenge for Europe and Italy is to strike the right balance between the protection of rights – which risk being compromised by the unmonitored use of these technologies – and excessive regulation that could further undermine sector development, which lags far behind that of China and the U.S. All without impacting the competitiveness of other economic sectors. Moreover, if studies show that the regulation of privacy (the EU’s GDPR) has already come at considerable cost to data conservation firms, the new requirements of the AI Act could further encumber Italy’s vast fabric of small and medium-sized enterprises.

        An independent authority with its own specific mission, equipped with an adequate infrastructure and competent personnel, could instead offer the ideal guide to innovation and provide the best instruments for implementing regulations. This while keeping clear the objective of helping the national economy to fully seize the opportunities offered by this ongoing revolution.