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Europe is the global capital of the tech backlash.
Authorities there have asked tech companies to evade taxes, track our data, disrupt competition, and let people spread dangerous lies online. This week, regulators have outlined limits on the mostly hypothetical harms from artificial intelligence technology.
Here are explanations that might explain why Europe is so hard for tech companies: It could be the scapegoat for the American giants because of Europe’s status as a a land of technology and the overwhelming access to unjustified government officials. But European authorities have also repeatedly decided to risk making too many rules for technology instead of too few.
Europe’s approach can be foresight, or it could kill useful innovation in the cradle. It’s certainly a real-world lab on what technology could look like with more handrails.
On Wednesday, my colleague Adam Satariano wrote about new rules proposed in Europe to govern the use of artificial intelligence at high odds, including in self-driving cars, for Bank loans, test scoring and criminal justice. (Again: AI is a term for a set of concepts that allow computer systems to vaguely function like a brain.)
Some activities using AI will be prohibited, with exceptions, such as direct facial recognition software in public spaces. In other areas, draft rules will require companies to assess the risk of their technology, document how it makes a decision, and often be open to the public about what’s going on under it. name AI.
It will be many years before any of these can become law. But European authorities are showing that they want to imagine what could happen to the technology and try to stop it – in some cases before AI is widely used.
“The potential harm of AI is enormous. It’s a human-like decision-making technology and the issues around bias are all well documented, ”Adam told me. “On the other hand, the major harms are still hypothetical. How do you adjust it? “
The first adjustment choice is usually not the way we do things in the United States. Yes, some US jurisdictions prohibit or restrict law enforcement using facial recognition, and many states have established safety rules for companies that want to test cars. unmanned driving on public roads. But most of all, we tend to wait for something bad to happen and then try to do something about it.
The American wait-and-see approach to regulation means that new ideas have fewer barriers to come to fruition. But we’ve also seen the risks of not planning on the flip side of technology.
With a relatively convenient approach to technology, companies like Facebook and Google have flourished. But perhaps now they have too much influence. Likewise, Uber and Lyft can operate without too many rules, simultaneously changing the number of us using transportation and introducing new types of jobs. But we all also have to deal with the problems those companies create, such as rising congestion and low-wage jobs.
In the United States, in particular, governments, the public, and technology companies often fail to fully consider what could go wrong.
It cannot be said that the European approach is wise or wrong. It’s also easier to manage technology in Europe, where there are relatively few homegrown tech giants that could be compromised by cryptic rules. (And the United States may be moving closer to Europe on some technological regulatory issues.)
Adam also told me that European technology regulation is not very effective because of poor enforcement or clumsy enforcement. Sometimes the wrong rules can be destructive – maybe worse, no rules at all. For example, language laws that incite hostility online in some European countries have created a cover for those that enact censorship laws.
In a way, Europe and the United States are on opposite sides of the big question: Is too little or too much regulation more risky?
Before we go …
There is not much love for Big Tech in Washington: During two different Senate hearings on Wednesday, Democrats and Republicans largely united in destroying the tech giants, as our friends at DealBook wrote. My colleagues Cecilia Kang and Jack Nicas have more details. One big revelation: Online dating company Match Group says it pays nearly $ 500 million a year to Apple and Google for app store fees, their single biggest expense.
The appeal of online popularity has a dark side: Jake Paul was one of YouTube’s earliest stars and started the trend with his live group of online video creators. My colleague, Taylor Lorenz, looked at what happened when stories were cohesive from most young associates who said that Paul’s organization used them for their fame and money. .
Seriously, this is possibly the best corner of the internet: Verzuz is a weekly online broadcast in which musicians debate who has a better catalog of songs. Jody Rosen writes for The New York Times Magazine as “one of the most trusted providers of the Internet.
See a worker apply ENORMOUS Band-Aid on blue whales on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Currently this whale is home to a Covid-19 vaccination center.
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