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Stalemate in Germany: AI regulation deadlock amid EU’s progress on rule book

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With the EU’s Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act) opening discussions across the region, German political parties are at loggerheads over the government’s direction on AI development.

Left-wing party Die Linke has poked holes in the proposed EU legislation, noting that the law is lacking in protecting consumers using the technology. The political party is pushing the German government to create a national supervisory body to vet AI platforms involved in high-risk industries before full-scale rollout.

“Politics must ensure that a technology that is significant for everyone but controlled by only a few is supervised by a regulatory authority and proven trustworthy before its implementation,” remarked Die Linke official Petra Sitte. “Therefore, do not let yourself be blackmailed by lobbyists of big technology corporations.”

Die Linke wants authorities to impose blanket bans on deploying AI systems in predictive policing and biometric identification of residents—a provision included in the EU AI Act. The party goes to push for an open-source approach for AI platforms for increased transparency.

The party wants authorities to remove the exception of scientific AI systems when deployed outside research facilities, urging the government to create a public AI registry.

Meanwhile, the Union party calls for limited AI regulation to foster innovation in the sector. In its AI white paper, the center-right party noted that the increased use of generative AI platforms allows German companies to excel globally.

Contrary to the suggestion of Die Linke, the Union party is staunchly against creating a central regulator to supervise AI. To give German AI startups a head start, the Union is pushing for governments to provide native companies contracts while granting them access to technology funds.

The party notes that building an AI infrastructure from scratch could lead to the country falling behind the pecking order. Instead, the Union advises the government to expand the supercomputing infrastructure at the Gauss Center for Supercomputing.

Seeking a middle ground

While both sides of the political divide hold their stands on AI regulation, the German AI Association (KI Bundesverband) is calling for a balance between innovation and attempts to ensure safe usage.

In its position paper, the association representing over 300 players in the space warned that tilting heavily to one side of the divide could lead to several unintended consequences. The KI Bundesverband urged policymakers to adopt a strategy that reduces AI risk, promotes development, and aligns with existing EU values.

Concerned organizations have pointed out that AI poses risks to emerging technologies like Web3, with AI firms warning the EU may need to catch up on AI development in the face of strict rules.

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