Five Things You NEED to Know About The EU’s AI Act

Charlotte Wall
zerone project
Published in
4 min readMar 25, 2024

Artificial intelligence is the Wild West. Whether you like this metaphor or not, there is some truth in the lack of legal and ethical infrastructure in this high-growth, prosperous landscape. In the rapidly evolving sector, frameworks are necessary now and for the future to be ethical, safe, and trustworthy.

At the end of last year, the European Union’s AI Act was passed (in my opinion, hastily), being the first of its kind to set regulations for AI development and usage, affecting companies, developers, and users alike. Now, this act is getting put into motion and will come into effect this year and years to come. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an AI-enthusiast, or your average tech user, based in Europe or elsewhere, this bill will impact everyone.

Here’s what you need to know to be up to speed:

What is its objective?

The EU AI Act is a legal framework designed to regulate AI development and usage across the European Union. It introduces a ranking for AI systems, from high risk to low risk, with corresponding regulations, the high risk ranking resulting in a ban.

Why does it exist?

Its goal is to ensure that AI technologies are safe, ethical, and respect fundamental human rights. The European Union, amongst other countries, institutions, and frankly, a lot of people, have raised concerns about the current development of AI. And with that, the EU wanted to put something into place legally.

Why should you care about it?

  1. It will make you trust AI technology more. Why?
  • Companies like Open AI will need to disclose how they use your data.
  • Companies aren’t allowed to use AI systems to conduct social scoring, which ranks people based on behavior or traits in hopes of identifying and targeting certain groups of people. Remember that Black Mirror episode? The EU does.
  • There will be more information about tech companies and their AI operations, such as energy consumption, made publicly available so you can make informed decisions about what AI you do and don’t support.

2. It protects your personal freedom because…

  • Governments will not be able to use your data to assign you to groups or scores that could negatively affect you.
  • Tech companies will not be allowed to use live facial recognition.
  • Your mood/feelings aren’t allowed to be predicted using AI. Beyond that, AI isn’t allowed to make guesses on someone’s race, sexual orientation, or political beliefs is banned as well.

Often, you don’t even realize when this technology is being used on you, so regulations like this are preventing this disruption of personal freedom and increasing technological transparency.

3. The EU will become the new AI Policeman.

  • As a groundbreaking mark in AI ethics and law, this AI Act is predicted to create a cascading effect for other nations and significant institutions, like how the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018 pushed countries like Brazil to follow suit.

4. ChatGPT and other daily used AI softwares will remain accessible in the EU.

When the EU AI Act was first announced last spring, OpenAI’s Sam Altman stood as an opponent (this is not shocking) of these regulations, threatening to stop operations in Europe because his company would have to add more safety measures to ChatGPT-4. However, as of now, ChatGPT will still be available for use in Europe, so there is no need to worry.

5. It’s a step towards sustainability.

European companies and international companies operating in Europe will have to disclose how much energy they use to train their AI models. This requirement for transparency will give us a better understanding of how much energy a company with AI systems is consuming.

Europe and The World

European companies like France’s Airbus and Germany’s Siemens have already raised concerns and complaints that the Act is too restrictive and will negatively impact innovation and economic growth in Europe. European tech companies are struggling to compete with the American powerhouses like OpenAI, who, as mentioned above, have actively lobbied against regulatory measures. On the governmental side, the EU parliament is arguing that this legal framework will lead to sustainable innovation growth for the long-term, even if there are new limitations now.

Final Thoughts

The EU AI Act isn’t the end all, be all for AI legal frameworks, but a promising and necessary start. The future awaits, and hopefully a more ethical, transparent, but continuously innovative one for artificial intelligence.

If you want to explore the EU AI Act further, check it out here.



Charlotte Wall
zerone project

Brown U alum and UX designer, hiker, knitter. I'm curious about what it means to be human today in the context of culture, design, and tech.