9 December 2023 – The European AI Act is becoming a law. What impact does it have on Facial Emotion Recognition AI?
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9 December 2023 – The European AI Act is becoming a law. What impact does it have on Facial Emotion Recognition AI?

Stefano Bargagni

As we read various articles on the subject, it’s evident that the AI Act adopts a “risk-based” approach to regulate AI, focusing on applications with the highest potential for human harm. However, it also appears to be a legislation that heavily emphasizes the revival of SMEs, startups, and research made in Europe. In the field of artificial intelligence, the advantage held by China and the United States puts Europe in a challenging position. These rules seek to rebalance a race that seems already lost.

This law ensures that rights and freedoms are at the heart of the development of this revolutionary technology, guaranteeing a balance between innovation and protection.

It’s also mentioned that after the political agreement, technicians are working on the final text, which will be definitively voted on by European bodies. If all goes well, it will come into force in two years.

European AI Act: My Perspective

I’m eager to read the text of the law, when it’s available, specifically in terms of definitions and scopes. As it stands, it seems clear that emotion recognition will be prohibited in workplaces and educational institutions, and that this measure is aimed at protecting the dignity and emotional freedom of individuals. However, I find myself pondering the meaning of “emotion” and what the law will define as the boundary. Will it be intentionally targeted at the use of AI to recognize emotions, or does it extend to any non-AI algorithm as well? Is tracking facial activation of a user considered emotion recognition? And what about the level of attention a user pays to content on their screen?

All these questions, I hope, will find answers in the final text of the law.

Conclusion: Where Does MorphCast Stand?

Regarding the company I founded and lead as CEO, which specializes in artificial intelligence and specifically facial tracking, it aligns perfectly with the spirit of the AI Act. Since 2021, we have actively engaged in addressing issues related to responsibility. Furthermore, starting from 2019, we have been conscientiously managing and reducing our environmental impact, making them our strong points (see here Ethics and Guidelines for a Responsible Approach to Emotion AI and here Carbon Neutral Program).

I’ll reserve my final thoughts on the subject for when the definitive law is released.

See also related articles: Insights on the Emotion AI Debate in 2023, and an update on the AI Act development in June 2023.

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Stefano Bargagni

Internet serial entrepreneur with a background in computer science (hardware and software), Stefano codified the e-commerce platform and founded the online retailer CHL Spa in early 1993, one year before Amazon. He is the Founder and CEO of MorphCast.