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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

European Union officials proposed new regulations Wednesday for high-risk uses of artificial intelligence, like facial scanning.

The big picture: The EU wants to set rules for uses of AI that shape decisions made about people's lives and ban uses of AI that are deemed to be too risky.

Why it matters: Europe has generally moved faster than the U.S. in imposing new regulations on the tech industry, as it did with privacy and monopoly concerns. Once again, the EU has set the terms of debate on how to govern a new technology, and the U.S. will need to react.

Details: The proposed new rules:

  • prohibit "remote biometric identification" for uses like surveilling crowds;
  • define a list of "high-risk" uses of AI; and
  • lay out fines for companies that break the rules.

What they're saying: “With these landmark rules, the EU is spearheading the development of new global norms to make sure AI can be trusted,” said Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s executive vice president for the digital age. “By setting the standards, we can pave the way for to ethical technology worldwide and ensure that the EU remains competitive along the way.”

  • Tech trade group the Information Technology Industry Council reacted cautiously. "We urge European policy-makers to focus on flexible regulation, targeted to the highest-risk applications," said Guido Lobrano, the group's vice president and director general for Europe. "AI presents global opportunities and challenges, requiring cooperation and alignment between jurisdictions."

What's next: Approving the proposal, which is subject to go through many changes before it's made final, could take years.

Go deeper

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Winter view from Charlotte as winter storm Izzy creates dangerous conditions in Charlotte, N.C. on Jan. 16. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The big picture: Heavy snow and ice accumulations were "likely to produce hazardous travel," downed trees and more outages from the Mid-South to the Northeast, per the National Weather Service. Some parts of the U.S. can expect to see up to a foot of snow through Monday.

Updated 5 hours ago - Science

Volcanic eruption in Tonga caused "significant" damage

This satellite image of the eruption on Jan. 15 taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency and released by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). Photo: NICT via AP

Significant damage has been reported in Tonga following an undersea volcanic eruption on Saturday, which covered the Pacific nation in ash and cut off communication lines.

Driving the news: The eruption triggered tsunami warnings across Tonga's islands and in other regions, including the West Coast of the U.S. and New Zealand.

5 hours ago - World

North Korea launches 4th suspected missile test this month

A news broadcast in Seoul, South Korea, of an apparent North Korean missile test on Monday morning local time. Photo: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea's military fired "two suspected short-range ballistic missiles" eastward from Pyongyang on Monday morning local time, per South Korean and Japanese officials.

Why it matters: The fourth such launch since Jan. 5 comes days after North Korea's military warned of "stronger" action if the U.S. moved to have more sanctions imposed on the country.