OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has suggested in a recent interview with Reuters that his company, the organization responsible for developing the popular AI tool ChatGPT, could withdraw its services from Europe if compliance with the forthcoming European Union AI regulations proves unattainable.
Altman believes that there is much the EU could do to revise the proposed regulations, such as redefining the scope of general-purpose AI systems. The primary concern for Altman seems to be a rule in the EU AI Act that mandates companies to reveal copyrighted materials used in the generation of AI tools.
This apprehension is not exclusive to OpenAI, as last week, Apple barred its employees from using ChatGPT or other third-party AI tools at work. The tech giant cited concerns over potential leakage of sensitive company information that could be stored on external servers.
However, Altman is optimistic, stating that the EU AI Act’s current draft could be regarded as over-regulation and was likely to see adjustments. As the Future of Life Institute notes in their analysis, the EU AI Act defines general-purpose AI as systems with a broad range of potential applications, both anticipated or unforeseen by their creators.
In December, EU member states greenlit a version of the Artificial Intelligence Regulation Act. Some European Parliament policymakers have urged US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to hold a global summit aimed at establishing a set of governance principles to oversee AI’s development, control, and deployment.
The rapid ascent of OpenAI’s ChatGPT since its public unveiling in November has taken the world by surprise, with several nations launching inquiries into the platform’s practices or implementing bans. Italy outlawed ChatGPT over privacy issues. In response to this, OpenAI implemented some modifications, including granting users control over deleting their interaction history.
While speaking at a panel discussion at University College London, Altman stated that OpenAI’s preference would be to find solutions to the proposed regulations before considering any exit from Europe. He remarked, “Either we’ll be able to solve those requirements or not. If we can comply, we will, and if we can’t, we’ll cease operating.”
The final outcome remains to be seen, but the question remains: will companies like OpenAI be able to adapt to the challenges imposed by the EU’s AI regulations, or will they choose to withdraw from the region entirely, potentially reshaping the AI landscape in Europe?