Apple lobbies EU lawmakers on AI policy


European Commission on artificial intelligence
The European Commission is drafting rules on artificial intelligence. Apple seems to want a say.
Photo: European Commission

Apple apparently wants to make sure the European Union doesn’t put too many restrictions on artificial intelligence. John Giannandrea, Apple’s AI chief, is reportedly in Brussels while lawmakers debate new rules on machine intelligence.

Apple, Google and Facebook have all sent executives to the lobby EU lawmakers while they’re deciding on how to regulate AI, according to the New York Times.

European Union considers artificial intelligence regulation

The European Commission hasn’t given any signs it’s about to put huge roadblocks in the way of companies developing AI. On the contrary, it’ll give researchers EUR 1.5 billion between 2018 and the end of this year to support the development of artificial intelligence in Europe.

However, the Commission is also working on an ethical and legal framework for this technology. Their decisions will be informed by a set of Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence published by a group of EC experts last year.

But Silicon Valley clearly wants to get a word in also. Apple, for example, uses AI in its Siri voice assistant and “Hey Siri.” And it’s developing a self-driving car. When Giannandrea is talking to EU lawmakers, he’ll surely try to ensure they don’t block anything Apple wants to do.

This might be something of a new experience for Apple, Google etc. As the NYT points out, the US Congress has traditionally taken a very hands-off attitude toward technology companies. But EU has instituted sweeping regulations on Big tech, like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). So, the European Commission is far more likely to put restrictions on artificial intelligence than Washington is.

Not that Apple is generally fighting the European Commission. In contrast, CEO Tim Cook has urged US lawmakers to follow the EU lead on privacy.