More action needed as European Parliament votes on “milestone” AI Act – Workday

 More action needed as European Parliament votes on “milestone” AI Act – Workday

As the European Parliament votes on the EU AI Act, Jens-Henrik Jeppesen, Senior Director – Corporate Affairs – EMEA & APJ at Workday weighs up this important milestone towards the world’s first AI law

Today, the European Parliament voted on its amendments to the proposed Artificial Intelligence Act, commonly known as the AI Act. The vote marks a significant step towards the first comprehensive regulation of AI anywhere in the world. Now, the stage is set for negotiations on a final text between the European Parliament, EU Member States, and the European Commission. These negotiations will likely last until the end of 2023 and pave the way for final adoption of the AI Act in early 2024. The milestone marks a notable advancement towards global commitment to the responsible use and development of AI, but more action is needed – and now.

Workday has been a vocal and early proponent of responsible AI and the need for reasonable safeguards. We have contributed to the groundwork for AI regulation since 2019, including in Europe. In line with that commitment, Workday has been active in working to ensure that the requirements included in the proposed AI Act are targeted and workable.

We have been building and delivering AI and ML capabilities to our customers for nearly a decade, driven by the belief that these technologies can help unlock human potential, drive business value, and enable our customers and their employees to focus on more strategic and fulfilling work. We are excited about the benefits AI and ML bring to our customers and society as a whole. We also recognize that to reach their full potential, these technologies must earn people’s trust. Smart, risk-based, and proportionate regulation can help build this trust and head off the risk of potential harm, while enabling innovation.

This is what the AI Act is intended to do. It will oblige providers of AI technology to ensure their products meet a set of requirements, instruct organizations using the tools to do so responsibly, and empower regulators to implement and enforce the rules. The AI Act’s proposed requirements set out sensible goals to manage potential risks, and in fact reflect many of the same concepts in Workday’s ethical AI principles that have guided our approach to responsible AI development and governance for several years. We are pleased to see the Parliament’s amendments reflect suggestions related to a more targeted definition of AI, maintaining reasonable requirements related to AI use cases, and supporting a nuanced risk-based approach.  At the same time, we hope to see further improvements in the proposal to ensure the regulation is as effective as possible, for example ensuring requirements provide clear standards for compliance.

While the AI Act will likely be the first piece of legislation of its kind, the EU is by no means the only region setting policy for these technologies. Countries are progressing their AI policymaking in different forms and Workday is engaging in those discussions across the globe. In the U.S., Workday was a leading advocate for legislation authorizing the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop an AI Risk Management Framework. In addition, Workday Co-President Sayan Chakraborty serves on the National AI Advisory Committee. For years we have urged Congress to pass legislation on AI, and we are working with legislators in California and New York City on concrete policy proposals to bolster trust in AI. Globally, we are engaging with the UK Government, which is looking to empower regulatory authorities to oversee deployment of trustworthy AI applications, and in Singapore, where Workday participates in the government’s AI Verify testing framework for responsible AI. In Canada, we are working with the government on its own proposed AI regulation, and Workday is engaging in emerging AI policy conversations in Australia.

Policies take different forms in different countries. Democratic nations across the globe are seeking to realize the benefits of AI technologies while ensuring that any potential risks are properly managed and mitigated. We are pleased to see efforts to develop multilateral consensus and coordination of AI policies in fora such as the OECD, the G7, and the EU-U.S. Trade and Technology Council.

Workday will continue to engage with policymakers and regulators globally to advocate for targeted and risk-based policy that strives toward trusted innovation. As the AI Act nears the finish line, we are optimistic that the EU’s efforts will serve as a catalyst to build international consensus on fundamental policy principles and help bring about a globally harmonized policy approach to AI.

By: Jens-Henrik Jeppesen, Senior Director – Corporate Affairs – EMEA & APJ, Workday