EU Parliament to vote on AI resolution to give us power to overrule machines

23 Jan 2020

Image: © Eisenhans/

MEPs on an EU committee have overwhelming approved a resolution that would give users of AI considerable power over automated systems.

With a total of 39 votes in favour, none against and four abstentions, MEP members of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee have approved a resolution that could not only put further onus of responsibility on AI developers, but give significant control to the consumer.

The committee said that consumers who have any interaction with automated decision-making (ADM) technologies should be “properly informed about how it functions, about how to reach a human with decision-making powers and about how the system’s decisions can be checked and corrected”.

These systems should be designed with high-quality and unbiased datasets, MEPs added, with review structures needing to be put in place to fix any mistakes that an AI may make.

“Humans must always be ultimately responsible for, and able to overrule, decisions,” the committee said, especially for those working in medical, legal and accounting sectors.

As part of the proposed resolution, the committee urged the European Commission – which will vote on the resolution in parliament on 19 February – to update the Product Liability Directive adopted over 30 years ago. This was brought in by the EU as a set of safety rules for products, making clear obligations for manufacturers of machinery and toys to follow.

AI ‘advancing at a remarkable pace’

“Technology in the field of AI and ADM is advancing at a remarkable pace,” said Petra De Sutter, chair of the committee.

“The committee has today (23 January) welcomed the potential of these advances, while at the same time highlighting three important issues that need to be addressed.

“We have to make sure that consumer protection and trust is ensured, that the EU’s rules on safety and liability for products and services are fit for purpose in the digital age, and that the data sets used in ADM systems are of high quality and are unbiased.”

This is yet another call for regulation of rapidly advancing technology, with reports that the EU is also looking to ban the use of facial recognition in public spaces for up to five years. Details of a white paper were released recently showing that a ban may be needed so that MEPs could draft regulations to ensure that this technology could be used ethically and would not be an infringement of citizens’ rights to privacy.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic