“Europe`s AI Convention”

“Europe`s AI Convention”

This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details of “Europe`s AI Convention”. This topic is relevant in the “Science & Technology” section of the UPSC- CSE Exam.


Why in the news?

The regulation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on a global scale is increasingly intricate. Nations endeavour to establish diverse frameworks within their jurisdictions, spanning legislative acts to executive directives. Despite calls from numerous experts for a unified international agreement, significant challenges impede its realisation.


What is Europe`s AI Convention?

Europe’s initiative in AI governance is exemplified by the Council of Europe’s landmark decision to adopt the Framework Convention on Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law, commonly called the ‘AI convention’. Unlike many existing ethical guidelines and soft law instruments, this convention carries binding implications, addressing the intersection of AI governance with fundamental human rights, democratic values, and responsible AI deployment. 

The Council of Europe, an intergovernmental organisation established in 1949 with 46 member states, has significantly shaped a comprehensive framework for AI regulation, with the convention scheduled for signature starting September 5.

Is the Framework Convention legally binding?


  • A “framework convention” constitutes a legally binding agreement outlining overarching commitments and goals within a convention while establishing mechanisms for their attainment. 
  • This framework establishes specific targets for subsequent agreements termed protocols. For instance, the Convention on Biological Diversity serves as a framework convention, while the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety functions as a protocol beneath it, focusing on regulations concerning genetically modified organisms.
  • The framework convention approach offers flexibility while embedding fundamental principles and processes necessary for realising objectives. Parties to the convention retain discretion in determining methods to achieve these objectives, tailored to their capacities and priorities.
  •  Moreover, adopting the AI convention could spark the negotiation of similar agreements at the regional level worldwide. Given the United States’ membership in the Council of Europe, albeit indirectly, the AI convention could indirectly influence AI governance in the U.S., which is a crucial consideration due to its status as a prominent hub for AI innovation.

Scope of the convention:


  • Article 1 delineates the convention’s scope and underscores its primary aim: “to ensure that activities throughout the lifecycle of artificial intelligence systems align fully with human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.” 
  • Article 3 further elaborates on this, specifying that the convention applies to activities within the lifecycle of artificial intelligence systems that possess the potential to infringe upon human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. This includes:
  • The application of the convention by each Party to activities within the lifecycle of artificial intelligence systems conducted by public authorities or by private actors acting on their behalf.
  • Each Party has an obligation to address risks and impacts stemming from activities within the lifecycle of artificial intelligence systems conducted by private actors in a way consistent with the objectives and principles of the convention.

Challenges for economies and societies


  • Job Displacement: The advent of AI and automation poses a risk of replacing numerous jobs, particularly those involving repetitive tasks. This could result in unemployment and economic upheaval, especially for industries heavily reliant on manual labour.
  • Economic Disparity: While AI offers benefits, its distribution may not be equitable, widening economic gaps between those with access to AI technologies and those without. Such disparities could exacerbate existing societal inequalities.
  • Privacy Risks: AI algorithms, shaped by the data they’re trained on, can inadvertently perpetuate biases, which may translate into discriminatory results in various domains, such as hiring, lending, and law enforcement. This perpetuation of biases further exacerbates existing social inequalities.
  • Bias and Discrimination: AI algorithms, shaped by the data they’re trained on, can inadvertently perpetuate biases, which may translate into discriminatory results in various domains such as hiring, lending, and law enforcement. This perpetuation of biases further exacerbates existing social inequalities.
  • Threats to Autonomy: As AI becomes more integrated into daily life, there are concerns about eroding human autonomy and decision-making. Over-reliance on AI for critical tasks may undermine individual freedoms.
  • Ethical Quandaries: AI raises ethical questions about accountability, transparency, and fairness. Decisions made by AI systems can have profound societal implications, necessitating careful consideration of ethical principles.
  • Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities: The increased reliance on AI systems introduces new cybersecurity risks, including the potential for malicious exploitation of vulnerabilities. This poses threats to economic stability and national security.
  • Education and Training Needs: The swift progress of AI underscores the need for continuous education and training to empower workers with essential skills for thriving in an AI-centric economy. Nevertheless, the task of delivering accessible and pertinent training programs to all societal segments poses significant challenges.


How does the convention address national security concerns? 

  • The exemptions outlined in Articles 3.2, 3.3, and 3.4 provide broad provisions for safeguarding national security interests, research and development activities, and national defence efforts, respectively. Consequently, military AI applications fall outside the AI convention’s purview. 
  • While this exclusion raises valid concerns, it reflects a pragmatic approach considering the lack of consensus on regulating such applications. Notably, the exemptions in Articles 3.2 and 3.3, though expansive, do not entirely negate the convention’s potential applicability concerning national security and testing. 
  • Furthermore, the “General Obligations” outlined in the convention primarily centre on safeguarding human rights (Article 4), upholding democratic processes, and adhering to the rule of law (Article 5). 
  • While specific provisions addressing disinformation and deep fakes are absent, parties to the convention are expected to take measures against such threats under Article 5. Moreover, the convention suggests in Article 22 that parties possess the flexibility to surpass the specified commitments and obligations, indicating a willingness to address emerging challenges proactively.

Significance of the AI convention


  • Rather than introducing novel human rights specific to AI, the convention affirms the importance of preserving existing human and fundamental rights upheld by international and national legislation in the context of AI application. 
  • It places primary responsibilities on governments, mandating the implementation of effective remedies (Article 14) and procedural safeguards (Article 15). Overall, the convention adopts a comprehensive stance toward mitigating the risks of using AI systems concerning human rights and democracy. 
  • Implementing such measures poses inevitable challenges, particularly amidst the ongoing evolution of AI technology, which often outpaces policy development and regulatory frameworks.


Download plutus ias current affairs eng med 27th May 2024


Prelims based Question

Q. Consider the following statements concerning AI:

  1. Voice to control devices.
  2. Driverless Car.
  3. Development of customised medicine.
  4. Climate resilient infrastructure.

Which of the above statement/s is/are correct?

  1. 1, 2, and 3 only
  2. 2, 3 and 4 only
  3. 1,3 and 4 only
  4. All of the above


Answer: D


Mains based Question

Q. Critically Analyse the “In the context of India, the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence is anticipated to revolutionise every industry, yet it is imperative to acknowledge its limitations. With this in mind, let’s delve into the advantages and obstacles linked with AI in India.” 


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