Roundup: The EU AI Act has some big holes

Read to the end for a heartwarming thread

Roundup: The EU AI Act has some big holes

I used to often link to an essay by renowned American author Ursula K. Le Guin called “A Rant About ‘Technology’”, but a few months ago I realized it was no longer online. Her website had been redesigned because the original webmaster died a few years back, and not all the content had made the move (though it was all still backed up on the Internet Archive).

Because I thought the essay held an important message for my work, I eventually decided to send a quick email to the Foundation managing the website since Le Guin passed in 2018 to ask if they could restore it — and they did! I got a quick reply saying they’d be happy to and would let me know once it was done, then early this week they sent me the link to let me know it was back online, so now I want to share it with you!

In the essay, Le Guin writes,

Technology is the active human interface with the material world. But the word is consistently misused to mean only the enormously complex and specialised technologies of the past few decades, supported by massive exploitation both of natural and human resources.

Go read it now. It’s not very long.

Now, with that said, this week I have a quick commentary on the holes that have already emerged in the EU’s AI Act, including some put there by OpenAI’s lobbyists to carve themselves out of stricter regulations. There are also plenty of recommended reads, labor updates, and other news as always!

To get the full roundup and support the work that goes into making Disconnect, make sure to become a paid subscriber!

Over on Tech Won’t Save Us, I spoke to Tim Schwab, author of The Bill Gates Problem, about how Gates used his philanthropy to whitewash his reputation, boost his corporate partners, and gain undue influence over important policy areas that have significant ramifications for the non-billionaires of the world.

‎Tech Won’t Save Us: Don’t Praise Bill Gates w/ Tim Schwab on Apple Podcasts
‎Show Tech Won’t Save Us, Ep Don’t Praise Bill Gates w/ Tim Schwab - Dec 7, 2023

Have a great week!


Dissecting the EU AI Act

EU Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton. Source: European Parliament.

On Saturday morning, the EU’s internal market chief Thierry Breton announced the bloc had come to an agreement on its AI Act. The rules don’t just cover generative AI, but a whole range of real and potential implementations of the technology with fines going as high as €35 million or 7% of global turnover. The act will still need to be approved by the European Parliament and EU national governments, but Breton is pitching it as a big win — especially in the absence of anything similar in the United States. But how much of a win is it?