VIENNA (PK) – The proposed regulation on artificial intelligence law, for which the expected agreement was not reached at the European level today and which will be negotiated tomorrow, was on the agenda of the EU Subcommittee today. The Commission also dealt with a proposed regulation that aims to replace the current directive in order to reduce the costs of expanding gigabit networks. The third item on the agenda was the proposed regulation governing the European digital identity.
A risk-based approach to regulating artificial intelligence
Negotiations are currently underway at European level on the world’s first legal framework for artificial intelligence. The goal of the proposed regulation is to promote human-centered and trustworthy AI. At the same time, this aims to ensure a high level of protection for health, safety and fundamental rights and to support innovation across the EU. The draft regulation follows a risk-based approach, classifying AI systems into four categories based on their potential risks: unacceptable risk, high risk, low risk, and minimal risk. The core of the draft regulation is harmonized rules for the development and use of high-risk artificial intelligence systems.
Just a year ago, the topic of artificial intelligence was not controversial and did not receive much attention, but this suddenly changed when ChatGPT became available to the public, said State Minister Florian Turski. The risk-based approach in the draft regulation is innovative because it focuses on the application of artificial intelligence. The big debate is about which app falls into which category, Tursky says. The main goal is to create legal certainty for SMEs. In order to support them in implementing the planned regulation, it is planned to establish an artificial intelligence service point in the RTR. This service point should later become the AI authority. Turski stressed that a commitment to transparency and labeling in AI is also key in terms of citizens’ trust.
Eva Maria Himmelbauer (ÖVP), Katarina Kocharowitz (SPÖ), Suleiman Zorba (Greens), Petra Steger (FPÖ) and Douglas Hojos Trautmansdorff (NEOS) asked State Minister Turski about Austria’s position and points of criticism in the ongoing negotiations on, for example, regarding the use of Artificial intelligence in biometric surveillance. Katarina Kuchariewicz (SPÖ) also criticized the fact that the planned regulation does not affect the use of artificial intelligence in the military sector. Petra Steiger (FPÖ) wanted to know where the planned service point in the RTR would be located, and said that AI labeling requirements would not resolve residents’ concerns about the risk of job losses due to AI applications.
Regarding the Austrian position, Turski said that Austria welcomes the establishment of a European-wide legal framework for artificial intelligence applications. As for the details, we now have to wait for the final compromise proposal from the ongoing negotiations; Only then can Austria’s position on this matter be determined. Of particular importance is the risk-based approach in the draft regulation, which we hope will establish itself as a global standard. He shares the view that strict regulation of AI in the military sector is also needed, but this area is not the EU’s business.
The AI service point in RTR should not be exclusive to the department, but should be covered by the media and communications business areas depending on the topic. Torsky said that the establishment of an AI body can only happen when there is a legal basis for it, that is, once the regulation has already entered into force. It is important that an agreement is reached at the European level in the next few days, otherwise there will likely be no decision on this matter before the EU elections. This would jeopardize Europe’s leading role in regulating AI.
In light of concerns about possible job losses through the use of AI, it can be assumed that there will be no overall job losses. However, huge job changes are expected, Turski said. Europe must do everything it can to ensure that the additional jobs created by the development of artificial intelligence are created here. This will not happen on its own, Tursky stressed, and we must take advantage of this opportunity “here with us.”
Making the expansion of gigabit networks more cost-effective and efficient
The Commission also took up a proposed regulation to create regulations to expand gigabit networks for electronic communications faster, cheaper and more efficiently in the European Union.
Questions from MPs Eva Maria Himmelbauer (ÖVP), Andreas Kollross (SPÖ), Suleiman Zorba (Greens), and Douglas Hojos-Trautmannsdorff to State Secretary Torski concern the status of the negotiations, the Austrian position and possible financing measures for the establishment of broadband infrastructure in residential construction.
From a technology perspective, expanding high-speed networks is essential and evolving, Tursky said. The idea of harmonization is also welcome in principle, but appropriate consideration must be given to the different systems in Member States. Turski said that it was possible to resolve the points of contention in this regard, which is important for Austria in the negotiations. When constructing new buildings, the “last mile” is always the most difficult and expensive aspect, i.e. the question of how to get the cable into the living room. Therefore, residential construction requires future planning of infrastructure and connection points that allow access to different service providers, Turski emphasized. There are currently no plans to provide relevant subsidies for housing construction, as the regulation is not expected to come into force for 12 to 24 months.
Personal digital wallet for European citizens
Suggested list for trustworthy and safe European digital identity It states that European citizens will in the future be able to use their personal digital wallet (European Digital Identity Wallet – EUDIW) across Europe for online services based on their existing national identity.
Austria has a long tradition of digital identification tools such as the citizen card, cell phone signature and now the Austrian ID card, State Minister Florian Turski said. The last few days have shown that ID Austria has been very well received, and nearly 500,000 digital driving licenses have been issued in Austria so far. A single European identity ensures that digital ID cards in Europe are compatible with each other. During the negotiations on this draft regulation, it was still important to pay attention to some freedoms in implementation so that the restrictions imposed on implementation would not be too severe.
Martin Engelberg (ÖVP) wanted to know how Austria compares to other member states in this area. Turski said that Austria is one of the model countries in Central Europe. However, the Nordic countries are already ahead in this regard.
Katarina Kocharowicz (SPÖ) emphasized that website certificates must be treated very sensitively with regard to tracking. She also asked whether the use of digital identity was also possible in relation to services provided by private companies. Among his personal political goals is that through the clear digital identification of the Austrian ID card via an interface, for example, age identification in supermarkets, the digital implementation of the “customer process” with banks, notarial work and cell phone conclusion the contract has become possible, Turski said. (Conclusion of the European Union Subcommittee) bea
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