The Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to the EU hosted today a debate forum on the future European legislation on Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is expected to be agreed in the coming days, and the need to set global limits. Under the title 'Artificial Intelligence Law: Solutions for a Global Challenge,' the event featured a keynote address by Gina Tost i Faus, Secretary of Digital Policies of the Government of Catalonia, along with interventions from representatives of European institutions and other key organizations in the sector. Ignasi Centelles, the Representative of the Government of Catalonia to the European Union, inaugurated the session.
Secretary Tost first highlighted the government's strong commitment to promoting the digital economy, with an ambitious strategy to foster the development and adoption of advanced digital technologies. The goal is to position Catalonia as one of the world's leading digital hubs. She cited Catalonia's AI Strategy, Catalonia.AI, a multisectoral, transversal plan centered on people approved by the government in 2020. The strategy aims to promote the development, use, and adoption of reliable, responsible, and sustainable AI to enhance business competitiveness and citizen well-being.
To achieve this goal, Tost explained that the government's action plan is structured in six key areas: Ecosystem; Research and Innovation; Talent; Infrastructure and Data; Adoption of Artificial Intelligence, and Ethics and Society. She emphasized that this executive effort has borne fruit, with numerous initiatives successfully launched in various action areas.
Regarding the future European AI legislation, described as a "reference for global cooperation to address the challenges posed by this technology," Secretary Tost emphasized that regulation and innovation do not have to conflict. She stated, "We face a new challenge, but if anything must be clear, it is that innovation and regulation are not opposites but compatible for the safety of citizens. As a government, we are clear: digital rights always come first. Always."
Debate with Top-level Actors
The event featured expert voices and decision-makers of relevance in the field of Artificial Intelligence. The first roundtable discussed European AI regulation, while the second, in which Secretary Tost participated, focused on global discussions around this technology.
Ella Jakubowska, Senior Policy Adviser at European Digital Rights, emphasized the need to protect human rights in AI regulation to build trust. She stated, "We have tried to make member states recognize AI as high risk, and that doesn't mean it's good or bad. But we have to listen to experts and consider their views." Sergey Lagodinsky, Member of the European Parliament, also stressed the balance between innovation and citizens' digital rights, saying, "We cannot say that the only option for the European tech sector is the Wild West. We have to find a balance because there are people concerned about the effects we are seeing from AI."
According to Tony Vanderstraete, Head of Digital Strategy and Transformation at the Digital Agency of Flanders, these AI rules "have to be clear. Everyone is waiting for it, both society and governments, but also companies." Jeremy Rollison, Head of European Affairs at Microsoft, highlighted the importance of interoperability of standards and the role of technology in economic growth. He emphasized responsible AI standards, challenges of transparency in generative AI, and advocated a risk-based approach with security mechanisms.
AI, a Global Challenge
The European AI legislation, expected to be finalized in the coming days, will serve as inspiration for many countries worldwide. Paula Pérez, Open Government Partnership Program Officer, asserted this, citing how Brazil is already beginning to regulate AI, taking into account concepts being debated in the European framework. Marjorie Buchser, Executive Director of the Digital Society Initiative at Chatham House, emphasized the importance of cooperation and challenges in cross-border application and collaboration.
Finally, Rashad Abelson from the OECD highlighted the need for corporate responsibility standards, emphasizing the identification, mitigation, and remedy of threats. He also underscored the impact of global markets on the dissemination of universal values and norms, citing examples such as the OECD's human rights standards.