More talks required on AI rules even if there is a deal, French minister says

FILE PHOTO: French Junior Minister for Digital Affairs Jean-Noel Barrot leaves following the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, November 22, 2023. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU countries and lawmakers may have to meet for yet another round of talks to hammer out crucial details of rules for artificial intelligence even if they clinch a deal on Wednesday, French Digital Minister Jean-Noel Barrot said on Tuesday.

Both sides and the European Commission, which drafted the rules two years ago, had been hoping that Wednesday's discussion would be the final one, following negotiations in June, July, September and October.

However, Europe's hopes of rolling out the first-of-its-kind rules could be derailed by disagreements over whether AI can be used in biometric surveillance and over the use of AI systems such as foundation models exemplified by Microsoft-backed OpenAI.

There is still a gap between both sides, Barrot said.

"Now I see that we are moving closer but I see that there Is still a distance. So I don't want us to rush and to constrain ourselves to a specific date," he told reporters.

"If we have a further trilogue it is fine. And from where I am looking, it seems to me that there are too many significant points to cover in one night for tomorrow to be the last trilogue."

Barrot cited biometric surveillance and general-purpose AI where the two sides have to work further on the finer details.

"I think it's still OK if a new trilogue has to take place," he said.

Further discussions, however, could delay the rollout of landmark rules in Europe that could set the benchmark for other countries.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee in Brussels; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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