EU unveils AI Office

June 6th, 2024 Posted in Data Protection

Introduction

On Wednesday, 29th May 2024, the European Commission (“EC”) announced the Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) Office had been established. The AI Office is set to become the cornerstone of AI expertise across the European Union (“EU”), playing a pivotal role in implementing the EU AI Act and fostering the development and use of trustworthy AI.

You can read our blog on the EU AI Act here.

What is the AI Office?

The AI Office is an EU regulator created by the European Commission and will sit within the Directorate-General for Communication Networks, Content and Technology (“DG CNECT”) in the EC. The DG CNECT is the organisation responsible for developing and implementing policies for the EC on the digital economy, research and innovation.

The European AI Office is organised into five specialized units and two advisory roles, reflecting its broad mandate:

  • Excellence in AI and Robotics unit
  • Regulation and Compliance unit
  • AI Safety unit
  • AI Innovation and Policy Coordination unit
  • AI for Societal Good unit
  • Lead Scientific Advisor
  • Advisor for International Affairs

The AI Office will be supported by 140 staff members, including technology specialists, lawyers, economists and policy experts, to ensure it is well-equipped to manage the multifaceted challenges and opportunities presented by AI.

Aims of the AI Office

The EU AI Office’s objective is to ensure the harmonised and consistent enforcement of the EU AI Act and provide support to businesses. Its main tasks and responsibilities will be:

Supporting the EU AI Act

The AI Office will be instrumental in implementing the EU AI Act across the EU. This will involve ensuring a coherent application of the act in member states, developing evaluation tools, investigating rule infringements, and providing guidance to ensure compliance. By supporting the governance bodies in member states, the office will help maintain a unified approach to AI regulation.

Encouraging trustworthy AI

The office is committed to fostering an ecosystem where trustworthy AI can thrive. This includes promoting best practices, facilitating real-world testing through AI sandboxes, and enhancing AI literacy across the EU. By collaborating with public and private entities, the AI Office aims to boost the EU’s competitiveness and economic growth.

Promoting international cooperation

On the international stage, the AI Office will advocate for the EU’s approach to trustworthy AI, fostering global cooperation and contributing to international AI governance. This strategic, coherent approach will ensure that the EU remains a global reference point for AI development and regulation.

Engaging with stakeholders

The AI office will work collaboratively with the European Artificial Intelligence Board and the European Centre for Algorithmic Transparency; bodies central to the regulation and enforcement of the EU AI Act. The AI Office will also work closely with other EU institutions, such as its data protection counterpart, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), to conduct joint investigations and share best practices.

You can read our blog on the EDPB’s investigation into ChatGPT here.

AI Office 1st Webinar

On Thursday 30th May, 2024, the AI Office hosted its first webinar on Risk management logic of the AI Act and related standards. The webinar took a closer look at EU AI Act’s requirement to implement a Risk Management System (RMS) and Quality Management System (QMS), to address health and safety risks and risks to fundamental rights associated with the use of AI systems. The need for further standards to be developed was also highlighted, as existing standards, such as the ISO/IEC 42001, show key areas of misalignment with the requirements of the EU AI Act. This highlights the need for organisations to seek expert advice if seeking to future-proof their regulatory compliance with the EU AI Act.

Next steps for the AI Office

The AI Office will now engage with a broad array of stakeholders, including industry leaders, academia, think tanks, and civil society, ensuring diverse perspectives to inform AI policy and practice.

In addition to this, the AI Office aims to release the first EU level standards and guidance to support compliance by spring 2025, a move which will be welcomed by organisations struggling to understand the requirements and obligations.

Need Assistance?

If you are unclear on what your obligations are under the EU AI Act and how to comply, please get in touch, we would be glad to assist.

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John Anjokwu

Written by John Anjokwu

Before joining Evalian as a Data Protection Analyst, John worked in retail and healthcare. He gained experience in legal work from Gentoo Group and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. John recently completed a Master of Laws degree at Northumbria University.