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Spain wants to supervise AI use via new regulation agency

The European Union (EU) continues to extend its lead over other regions in terms of artificial intelligence (AI) regulation, with Spain leading the new charge.

Named the Spanish Agency for the Supervision of Artificial Intelligence (AESIA), the body is the first of its kind in the EU region and will proceed with the creation of AI rules that are “inclusive, sustainable and citizen-centered.”

According to the official disclosure, the decision to float a new regulatory entity is a direct response to the rapid innovations in AI since the start of the year. In early 2020, the Spanish government unveiled a National Strategy on Artificial Intelligence (ENIA) with grand plans to become a leading industry player while protecting the interest of consumers.

AESIA will be responsible for creating a licensing regime for AI developers and establishing a schedule of fees. A community reading of the official disclosure reveals wide powers for the agency to act against firms and their principal members for violating its rules.

AESIA will implement the objectives of the AI national strategy, per the disclosure. Since 2021, Spain has been wanting to improve its digital economy under its Recovery, Transformation, and Resiliency Plan, seeking to leverage Big Data, AI, and blockchain technology.

While Spain is putting its house in order, it is also keen on carrying the rest of the EU in its quest for proper regulations. Spain is currently utilizing its stint as Chair of the EU Council meetings to steer the regional bloc’s AI policy toward stricter regulations for industry players.

“The whole EU—and, I must say, Spain—should keep being a leader in the fields of AI and digital transformation,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said. “We need adequate rules.”

In 2020, Spain created an AI Ministry with AI executive Carme Artigas steering the affairs of the ministry in a Eurocentric manner.

“We don’t like the way where data is in the hands of private companies [as in the U.S.], or in the hands of the government, like in China,” Artigas said in June. “The (EU’s ) third way is the only way. The rest of the world now realizes that’s the only way to regulate this technology.”

Finding balance proves difficult

The EU is moving ahead with its comprehensive AI ACT that has elicited diverse reactions from industry stakeholders. The proposed rules designed to “set the tone” for global AI regulations impose blanket bans on AI-based predictive policing systems and real-time remote biometric identification systems.

Several tech executives have protested against the EU’s AI regulation because it could stifle innovation in the sector, leading to capital and talent flight. A coalition of tech firms led by Github urged the region’s lawmakers to lessen restrictions on open-source AI to encourage innovation since a majority of projects are non-profits.

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