GitHub CEO: The EU ‘will define how the world regulates AI’

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GitHub CEO Thomas Dohmke addressed the EU Open Source Policy Summit in Brussels and gave his views on the bloc’s upcoming AI Act

“The AI Act will define how the world regulates AI and we need to get it right, for developers and the open-source community,” said Dohmke.

Dohmke was born and grew up in Germany but now lives in the US. As such, he is all too aware of the widespread belief that the EU cannot lead when it comes to tech innovation.

“As a European, I love seeing how open-source AI innovations are beginning to break the narrative that only the US and China can lead on tech innovation.”

“I’ll be honest, as a European living in the United States, this is a pervasive – and often true – narrative. But this can change. And it’s already beginning to, thanks to open-source developers.”

AI will revolutionise just about every aspect of our lives. Regulation is vital to minimise the risks associated with AI while allowing the benefits to flourish.

“Together, OSS (Open Source Software) developers will use AI to help make our lives better. I have no doubt that OSS developers will help build AI innovations that empower those with disabilities, help us solve climate change, and save lives.”

A risk of overregulation is that it drives innovation elsewhere. Startups are more likely to establish themselves in countries like the US and China where they’re likely not subject to as strict regulations. Europe will find itself falling behind and having less influence on the global stage when it comes to AI.

“The AI Act is so crucial. This policy could well set the precedent for how the world regulates AI. It is foundationally important. Important for European technological leadership, and the future of the European economy itself. The AI Act must be fair and balanced for the open-source community.

“Policymakers should help us get there. The AI Act can foster democratised innovation and solidify Europe’s leadership in open, values-based artificial intelligence. That is why I believe that open-source developers should be exempt from the AI Act.”

In expanding on his belief that open-source developers should be exempt, Dohmke explains that the compliance burden should fall on those shipping products.

“OSS developers are often volunteers. Many are working two jobs. They are scientists, doctors, academics, professors, and university students alike. They don’t usually stand to profit from their contributions—and they certainly don’t have big budgets and compliance departments!”

EU lawmakers are hoping to agree on draft AI rules next month with the aim of winning the acceptance of member states by the end of the year.

“Open-source is forming the foundation of AI innovation in Europe. The US and China don’t have to win it all. Let’s break that narrative apart!

“Let’s give the open-source community the daylight and the clarity to grow their ideas and build them for the rest of the world! And by doing so, let’s give Europe the chance to be a leader in this new age of AI.”

GitHub’s policy paper on the AI Act can be found here.

(Image Credit: Collision Conf under CC BY 2.0 license)

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