The European Commission has launched a new research unit that will investigate the impact of the algorithms made and used by prominent online platforms and search engines such as Facebook and Google.
The European Centre for Algorithmic Transparency launched on April 18 and will help the European Commission identify and address any potential risks posed by these platforms.
ECAT will be embedded within the European Union’s existing Joint Research Centre, which conducts research on a broad range of subjects including artificial intelligence.
Like the design of the Las Setas building in Seville, algorithms are complex structures that shape our online experience.
This is what we are working on at the European Centre for Algorithmic Transparency. We want to make the online experience safer for all.#DigitalEU
— European Commission (@EU_Commission) April 18, 2023
The team will consist of “data scientists, AI experts, social scientists and legal experts” who will analyze and evaluate the AI-backed algorithms used by Big Tech firms.
AI-based programs are built using a series of complex algorithms, meaning ECAT will also be looking at algorithms that underpin AI chatbots such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which some believe could eventually replace search engines.
4. New systems like Microsoft’s Bing chatbot and OpenAI’s ChatGPT threaten traditional search engines such as Google, which may explain why Samsung is reportedly considering replacing Google with Bing as its default search engine.
— Debrieft (@thedebrieft) April 17, 2023
On its website, the commission claims that ECAT will conduct algorithmic accountability and transparency audits, as required by the Digital Services Act, a set of European Union rules enforceable as of Nov. 16, 2022.
According to the EU’s internal market commissioner, Thierry Breton, ECAT will “look under the hood” of large search engines and online platforms in order to “see how their algorithms function and contribute to the spread of illegal and harmful content.”
Nearly a dozen EU politicians called for the “safe” development of AI in a signed open letter on April 16.
The lawmakers asked United States President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to convene a summit on AI and agree on a set of governing principles for the development, control and deployment of the tech.
Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk also had issues with the development of AI, arguing on an April 17 Fox News interview that AI chatbots like ChatGPT have a left-wing bias and said that he was developing an alternative called “TruthGPT.”