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European Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager attends a news conference in Lulea, Sweden, on May 31.TT NEWS AGENCY/Reuters

EU tech chief Margrethe Vestager said on Wednesday she believed a draft code of conduct on artificial intelligence (AI) could be drawn up within weeks, allowing industry to commit to a final proposal “very, very soon.”

Policy makers and many in the industry have expressed concern about AI, particularly content-creating generative AI such as ChatGPT, with some equating it to the risks posed by pandemics or nuclear war.

Ms. Vestager said the United States and the European Union should push a voluntary code to provide safeguards while new laws are developed.

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“Generative AI is a complete game-changer,” Ms. Vestager, who is a vice-president of the European Commission, told a news conference on Wednesday after a meeting of the EU-U.S. Trade and Technology Council (TTC).

“Everyone knows this is the next powerful thing. So within the next weeks we will advance a draft of an AI code of conduct,” she said, adding she hoped there would be a final proposal “very, very soon” that industry could sign up to.

In a subsequent tweet, she mentioned watermarking and external audits among ideas that could feature in the code.

The European Union’s AI Act, with rules on facial recognition and biometric surveillance, is still going through the legislative process.

“In the best of cases it will take effect in 2½ to three years’ time. That is obviously way too late,” Ms. Vestager told reporters before the meeting of the TTC in Sweden. “We need to act now.”

The TTC closing statement said the two partners had created expert groups focusing on terms required to assess AI risks, co-operation on AI standards and monitoring existing and emerging risks.

Leaders of the G7 countries called in May for the development of technical standards to keep AI “trustworthy,” urging international discussions on topics such as governance, copyright, transparency and the threat of disinformation.

Ms. Vestager said there needed to be agreement on specifics, suggesting Brussels and Washington could help drive the process, and noting that generative AI was “developing at amazing speeds.”

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