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"AI in machinery is no high risk"


21 Apr 2021


Innovation & Enterprise
EU regulation on artificial intelligence

Brussels/Frankfurt, 21 April 2021 Artificial Intelligence (AI) in industry will be regulated according to the EU’s plans. "In fact, the latest proposal is a clear case of double regulation and goes too far," says Professor Claus Oetter, Managing Director VDMA Software and Digitalisation, on the European Commission's now-published draft law. The use of artificial intelligence in machines is classified here as ‘high-risk AI’. From the point of view of European machine and plant manufacturers, the high-risk classification is completely exaggerated. “There are already extensive safety laws, which oblige manufacturers to carry out systematic and comprehensive safety assessments. Therefore, machines with AI technologies are already safe anyway. It is absurd to use the term high risk here," says Prof. Oetter. “We therefore call for the AI Act to focus on the truly risky societal impacts and to exclude already regulated areas such as mechanical engineering from its scope.”


Do not hit the brake on innovation

The proposed law leaves many questions unanswered and creates uncertainty. For example, it is unclear when the use of AI methods becomes relevant to regulation. In practice, this means that it remains open whether each AI code in a sub-program represents a ‘high risk’ and whether this code line needs to be registered, even if the autonomy of the system does not change.


In the VDMA’s view, legal uncertainties and new requirements once again endanger the development of technology in Europe: “In future, smaller enterprises in particular will ask more often whether or not to use artificial intelligence in their program codes because the administrative burden becomes too heavy”, says Oetter. “Innovation-friendly regulation is different.”


Moreover, the EU Commission does not specify any criteria or risk analyses that have led to the “high-risk” assessment. From the point of view of the mechanical engineering industry, the classification is not comprehensible and does not correspond to the reality in factories. Now the European Parliament and the Council must ensure clarity. “It would be a pity if we hit the brakes now. We are also in international competition here," says Oetter.


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