This week, the news centres around the legislation of AI, with items from the UK and EU. The European Union’s AI Act is in its final stages of passing into law. Most recently, the Committee of Permanent representatives voted in favour of the act. And the publishing community has widely welcomed the move.
What is the AI Act?
The AI Act places regulations on the operators of large general purpose AI platforms. There has been some (by which I mean lots) of wrangling about what exactly “large” means, and the strictest rules will apply only to a handful of data-hungry behemoths, but this is nonetheless a significant step. Of particular note is that the EU has pushed back against tech substantial industry lobbying that tried to make the case that it should be left to regulate itself.
Among the substantive measures of the AI Act are a requirement for transparency in the use of copyrighted material in training large general purpose AI models; and the labelling of all aI-generated content. This last point ties in with an announcement that you may have seen from Meta. The company that owns Facebook and Instagram has said it will introduce software that labels all fake images uploaded to its platform that have been created by AI.
Meanwhile in the UK…
The House of Lords (the UK's upper parliamentary house) has issued a report on large language models (LLMs). This comes in the same week Lord Bragg used the chamber to give a powerful call to remind people of the importance of the arts. I will quote the key point in the report in full, as already quoted in Publishing Perspective:
“One area of AI disruption that can and should be tackled promptly is the use of copyrighted material to train LLMs. LLMs rely on ingesting massive datasets to work properly but that does not mean they should be able to use any material they can find without permission or paying rights holders for the privilege. This is an issue the government can get a grip of quickly and it should do so.”
As with the AI Act, publishers have welcomed the report. You can read it for yourself here. But rest assured, I will have done so by next week and will dedicate my AI related news item to giving you the highlights.