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Stalled talks resume on EU’s AI Act, biometric surveillance targeted

By Foo Yun Chee, Martin Coulter and Supantha Mukherjee

BRUSSELS/LONDON/STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -A third day of negotiations on Friday over landmark European Union rules governing the use of artificial intelligence will focus on military and security applications, with governments seeking to persuade lawmakers not to impose an outright ban.

Exhausted EU lawmakers and governments clinched a provisional deal on Thursday on another highly contentious issue, how to regulate AI systems like ChatGPT, after a nearly 24-hour debate.

“Batteries: recharged. Ready to dive back into the #AIAct trilogue,” EU industry chief Thierry Breton said on X on Friday.

“We made major progress yesterday and the day before – let’s join forces for the last mile.”

The use of AI in biometric surveillance will be the main point of discussion and could determine whether Europe will take the lead in regulating the technology, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

EU lawmakers want to ban the use of AI in this area because of privacy concerns, but governments have pushed for an exception for national security, defence and military purposes.

The prolonged talks and divisions within the 27-member bloc illustrate the challenge facing governments around the world as they weigh the advantages of the technology, which can engage in human-like conversations, answer questions and write computer code, against the need to set guardrails to control its influence.

Europe’s ambitious AI rules come as companies like Microsoft-based OpenAI continue to discover new uses for their technology, triggering both plaudits and concerns.

Illustrating how fast the market is growing, Alphabet on Thursday night launched Gemini, its new AI model which it hopes will help narrow the gap in a race with OpenAI.

OpenAI’s founder Sam Altman and computer scientists have also raised the alarm about the danger of creating powerful, high intelligent machines which could threaten humanity.

The EU law could become the blueprint for other governments and an alternative to the United States’ light-touch approach and China’s interim rules.

(Writing by Josephine Mason; Editing by David Evans, Elaine Hardcastle and Catherine Evans)

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