Artificial intelligence and automated processes may involve certain risks for consumers that the European Parliament wants to address.
Artificial Intelligence and its risks
As learning algorithms can process data sets with precision and speed beyond human capacity, artificial intelligence (AI) applications have become increasingly common in finance, healthcare, education, the legal system and beyond. However, reliance on AI also carries risks, especially where decisions are made without human oversight. Machine learning relies on pattern-recognition within datasets. Problems arise when the available data reflects societal bias.
The development of AI and automated decision-making processes also presents challenges for consumer trust and welfare. When consumers are interacting with such a system, they should be properly informed about how it functions.
AI in decision-making processes
AI is increasingly involved in algorithmic decision systems. In many situations, the impact of the decision on people can be significant, such as access to credit, employment, medical treatment, or judicial sentences. Automated decision-making can therefore perpetuate social divides. For example, some hiring algorithms have been found to be biased against women.
The position of the Parliament
In a resolution adopted on 23 January, the internal market and consumer protection committee urges the European Commission to examine whether additional measures are necessary in order to guarantee a strong set of rights to protect consumers in the context of AI and automated decision-making.
The Commission should clarify how it will:
- ensure that consumers are protected from unfair and discriminatory commercial practices as well as from risks entailed by AI-driven professional services
guarantee greater transparency in these processes
ensure that only high-quality and non-biased datasets are used in algorithmic decision systems.
MEPs will vote on the resolution in mid February. After that it will be transmitted to the Council and the Commission. The Commission should present its plans for a European approach to AI on 19 February.