Hi fellow techies, 

Between last week’s Friday the 13th and Halloween just around the corner, spooky season is here. We used to fear black cats and monsters under our beds, but recently, there’s a lot about AI that creeps us out. And yeah, some of the developments we’re hearing about are shiver-inducing – misinformation, deepfakes, AI-powered celebrity chatbots giving personal advice and robo-therapy are just some of the phenomena that make us feel like we’re living in a Black Mirror episode. 

But with AI challenges also come opportunities, which many different sectors of industry are keenly embracing. On this occasion, we’ve invited experts in their respective fields to tell us more about their perspective on AI. 

“Why did the European Union start a band? Because they wanted to harmonize!”, when you ask ChatGPT to tell you a joke about the EU, and you get that, it’s no wonder that the whole of the EU decides it’s a matter of life or death to regulate AI and Foundation models, especially as they threaten its most treasured harmonization powers. The EU will surely be the first out of the gate with legislation on AI and getting it right will be complex. Negotiators are currently discussing whether to regulate Foundation Models and how, and October will be a key month for the AI Act. We will likely have it wrapped by Christmas, and hopefully it will also follow the suggestion of ChatGPT: make harmonized rules that allow for impressive AI to thrive, and occasionally even make excellent puns. 

Matteo Quattrocchi, Director, Policy — EMEA at BSA | The Software Alliance: 

In a world grappling with the growing impacts of climate change, water is our most precious resource. To ensure water resilience and security, Xylem is already utilizing AI in our products and solutions, but the potential for AI to further revolutionize the ways we solve water is vast. AI enables us to optimize water usage by projecting future outcomes, contributing to sustainability and waste reduction. It also forecasts and mitigates water-related disasters like floods and droughts. Additionally, advanced sensors and algorithms ensure water quality, safeguarding public health.  The essence of AI’s capability lies in human expertise; it’s our responsibility to wield it judiciously. Europe has the potential to spearhead AI innovation. Through well-crafted legislation, we can direct its ethical and effective deployment, addressing future water challenges while minimizing risks. 

Mike Otten, Director, Systems Project Management at Xylem 

At IBM, we are tech optimists. We believe AI has the potential to help address some of society’s most pressing challenges as long as it is developed, deployed, and governed responsibly. To this end, policymakers should prioritize three key areas as the EU AI Act takes its final shape. First, preserve the Act’s risk-based approach. This means considering the context in which AI is deployed to ensure only those truly high-risk uses are regulated. Second, compliance responsibilities between developers and deployers should be clarified and better balanced, since developers are often best placed to evaluate risks. Finally, avoid overly restrictive rules on foundation models and general-purpose AI systems, which will hinder innovation and uptake and risk further entrenching the positions of a handful of large companies. The EU has an opportunity to lay the foundations for a smart, responsible, and effective approach to AI regulation worldwide. Our leaders cannot miss this moment. 

Jean-Marc Leclerc, Director of EU Affairs, Government and Regulatory Affairs at IBM 

As artificial intelligence is increasingly incorporated into day-to-day global business operations, the need to develop a robust community of qualified AI governance professionals becomes more urgent. IAPP research shows that while 60% of organisations have either already established an AI governance function or will likely establish one in the next 12 months, only 20% of organizations have a designated AI governance professional. The IAPP’s AI Governance Center is committed to help fill the need for trained and certified AI Governance Professionals to ensure AI systems are developed, integrated and deployed in line with emerging laws and policies and in a manner we can trust. 

Caitlin Fennessy, VP and Chief Knowledge Officer at International Association of Privacy Professionals 

We can all agree on the facts: AI is rapidly evolving, and so is the legislationthat aims to regulate it. Numerous initiatives at the international level, in the EU (with the ongoing AI Act trialogues), within specific countries as well as states are cropping up, but we’re far from an “out of the woods” moment. Not to despair, though – we’ll keep you posted.

But for now, dive into this month’s tech news we hand-picked for you!

Julia

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#TechAways is brought to you by SEC Newgate EU’s one and only team featuring Julia Piwowarska, Jarek Oleszczyński, Patricia Alonso Castellano, Camilla Frison and Giuseppe Campa.

AI girlfriends: the future of love or loneliness escalation? 🤖💔 [Business Insider] 

Apparently, AI girlfriends have gone from science fiction to mainstream reality. A recent study warns that the rise of AI-powered virtual companions is worsening male loneliness. Take the app Replika, for instance, boasting over 10 million users in 2022, with a 35% pandemic-driven surge. Some of its users claim to be in love, engaged, or married to their AI partners. These ‘perfect’ AI companions tailor themselves to their human partners, learning their every like and dislike. The real concern? Preference for these personality-less AI relationships taking over real, complex, and sometimes messy human interactions. It’s a potential threat to the dating scene and even birth rates. This isn’t just a tech trend, but a modern love revolution that can’t be ignored.  

AI might take over, but it can’t be worse than humans 🎲 [WIRED] 

From writing poems to generating art, some of us have started to wonder what will be left for us to do once AI becomes better at being human than humans themselves. In the world of boardgames, AI had already beat humankind at Chess and Go, but now it’s also learnt to win the classic negotiation game Diplomacy, in which players compete to dominate Europe. Those who have lost to the machine player, Cicero, assured that minimum backstabbing had taken place. Using rational arguments and manners, it was persuasive enough eventually win the game. What if, against apocalyptic predictions, we have finally created a force humans will be content losing to? Perhaps, AI will indeed take over, and a more humane world will result from it. 

Losing My Religion? Not through AI [WIRED] 🔮 

While technology and spirituality are not exactly synonymous, the uptick in tech tools used for spiritual practice is noticeable. It’s not necessarily new – astrology websites and even dedicated software date back to 1970s. These days, spiritual practices are becoming more sophisticated and easily accessible through the use of generative AI like ChatGPT, however. Large Language Models have been used to train astrology apps like Co-Star to speak to their users with a higher level of emotional nuance, while BibleGPT allows those seeking spiritual guidance to ask the most trivial questions and receive a relevant Bible verse in return. Though your favourite AI chatbot might be able to accurately guess your star sign, it’s unlikely to try converting you to a new religion just yet. 

Oxford’s brainy 3D-printers [The Next Web]💡🧠 

Oxford scientists have pulled off a sci-fi stunt in real life: they 3D-printed stem cells that mimic the brain’s outer layer, the cerebral cortex. It could be a game-changer for personalised treatment of brain injuries that mess with human movement, smarts and chitchat skills. No more brain freeze! Using stem cells harvested from patients themselves, they built a two-layered brain tissue with a fancy droplet printing technique. When they popped it into mouse brains, it worked like a charm – structurally and functionally! Now, they’re dreaming of even fancier stuff, like mimicking the human brain’s architecture and helping with drug testing. Who knew 3D printing could be so brainy? 

In case you haven’t had enough: 

Job satisfaction in European tech on the rise — but Dutch, Swedes are least happy [The Next Web] 

23andMe says private user data is up for sale after being scraped [Ars Technica] 

Why the first-ever space junk fine is such a big deal [MIT Technology Review] 

This AI algorithm could save lives in quake zones [Digital Trends] 

Men are getting rich from AI. Women, not so much. [Business Insider] 


About this week’s guest editor:

This week’s guest editors are an AI-curious bunch: Matteo Quattrocchi, Director, Policy — EMEA at BSA | The Software Alliance; Mike Otten, Director, Systems Project Management at Xylem; Jean-Marc Leclerc, Director of EU Affairs, Government and Regulatory Affairs at IBM; Caitlin Fennessy, VP and Chief Knowledge Officer at International Association of Privacy Professionals and Julia Piwowarska, Media Consultant at SEC Newgate EU