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  4. EU and AI, a historic transformation that needs regulating

EU and AI, a historic transformation that needs regulating

ANSA holds conference at European Parliament with focus on news

(By Mattia B. Bagnoli) (ANSA) - BRUSSELS, NOV 16 - Artificial Intelligence is a change and a technological transformation in which opportunities and risks both nest.
    This is even more true for a sector like the media that has already been shaken up (and knocked about), first by the arrival of the Internet and then by social media, and has not yet fully embarked on the road of sustainability.
    A conference organized by ANSA at the European Parliament in Brussels entitled 'The Factory of Reality: Journalism and the News in the Era of Generative AI (La Fabbrica della Realtà: Giornalismo e Informazione nell'era dell'IA Generativa) involved numerous stakeholders and addressed many of these issues, given the awareness that (good) journalism is fundamental for democracies to survive.
    Two panel discussions featured the participation of Brando Benifei, a PD/S&D MEP and the rapporteur of the AI regulation currently at the centre of complex negotiations with the European Council; Italian Cabinet Undersecretary with the Portfolio for Innovation Alessio Butti; DG Connect Director General Roberto Viola; Federica Russo, a professor at the University of Utrecht and Coordinator of the Solaris Project on AI; ANSA Editor-in-chief Luigi Contu; Lucilla Sioli, Director for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Industry at the European Commission; ANSA CEO Stefano De Alessandri; and Alfredo Maria Garibaldi, Artificial Intelligence & Data Director at Deloitte.
    The debates were moderated by Enrico Tibuzzi, the chief of ANSA's Brussels office, and Alessio Jacona, the curator of the Artificial Intelligence Observatory.
    The common denominator of the discussion was the crucial importance of the legislature so that AI is properly regulated, first and foremost to protect readers-consumers.
    The European Union will be the forerunner on this front at the global level.
    "The AI Act that is in the pipeline is Europe is the world's first regulation (of this kind) and we should be proud of this," said Alessio Butti, while stressing that there should be a margin for "national sovereignty" in its application.
    Pointing out that the European dimension is "essential" to have effective results, Benifei said he hoped there would be unity of purpose with the 27 Member State governments, Italy's included, over issues such as "recognizability of content generated by AI, with the introduction of digital watermarking, and over copyright.
    "We are in a decisive phase in the negotiations at this very moment on various issues to reach an agreement on the final text of the law," Benifei added.
    "There are issues that we are divided over, such as surveillance, biometric control, predictive policing, and here the distances that we will have to bridge remain".
    De Alessandri stressed that AI "could revolutionize a fundamental aspect of journalism, content creation, not just its distribution, as happened with other technological changes, such as the arrival of satellite (broadcasting) or the Web".
    So it is fundamental that regulators intervene before it is too late, he said.
    "The Internet developed amid total deregulation. It arrived in the media world in 1993-94, while the copyright directive dates to 2019 and it has only been adopted in recent months - it took 30 years," said De Alessandri.
    But AI can also give a lot to the media.
    Speaking via video-link from Rome, Contu gave some practical examples of this, going from the possibility of "freeing journalists from perverse jobs, such repeatedly having to insert captions for photos, to the creation of new products using the agency's text, image and video archives to produce fact-boxes to accompany major news stories.
    "But no one should kid themselves that AI can replace the work we do and I hope that the publishers don't want to make this mistake," Contu warned.
    "How can a machine set the priorities of a news story stemming from a speech by Joe Biden? How can it make ethical decisions? These are jobs that only a human can do, a journalist who, among other things, has criminal and civil responsibility for what they write".
    Viola argued that it is necessary to respond to the challenges posed by AI "with no alarmism and no laxity", saying it was necessary to take on board X owner Elon Musk's provocative assertion that AI will wipe out 100% of jobs and address the "economic, social and cultural impact".
    Garibaldi said that, faced with "excessive expectations and fears deriving from little knowledge of the real phenomenon", what is needed is to "maintain an approach in which AI is at the side of workers, without replacing them".
    Sioli said that, if everything holds up, the new technology's "positive potential" will affect "many aspects of our lives".
    Perhaps even giving rise to a new golden age of quality journalism. (ANSA).


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