What are the risk levels in the EU AI Act?

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a transformative technology with great potential for shaping the future. However, concerns regarding its potential risks have led to the introduction of the EU AI Act. This regulatory framework, proposed by the European Commission, defines distinct risk levels to govern the development and deployment of AI systems within the European Union effectively.

The Act adopts a risk-based approach, categorizing AI systems into four levels: Unacceptable risk, High risk, Limited risk, and Minimal or no risk. Based on the level of risk, each category has corresponding regulatory requirements to ensure that the level of oversight is appropriate to the risk level. The EU AI Act aims to ensure the safe and responsible development of AI systems in the EU.

Unacceptable risk systems

AI systems can be categorized based on the level of risk they pose. Those falling under the Unacceptable Risk category are considered a significant threat to fundamental rights, democratic processes, and societal values. Such systems are likely to compromise the integrity of critical infrastructures and engage in activities that could lead to serious incidents.

To address this issue, the Act prohibits using Unacceptable Risk AI systems, ensuring they do not threaten society. This prohibition is in place to safeguard critical infrastructure and prevent any harm to individuals or communities. By taking these measures, we can promote the safe and responsible use of AI while safeguarding the interests of society as a whole.

High-risk AI system

The European Union’s AI Act specializes in high-risk AI systems, primarily used in critical sectors such as healthcare, transportation, and law enforcement. These systems undergo strict conformity assessments to ensure their accuracy, robustness, and cybersecurity, and their deployment is heavily regulated to mitigate potential risks associated with their use.

The Act also mandates human oversight in deploying high-risk AI, ensuring accountability and providing an additional safety and security layer. Overall, the EU AI Act is designed to create a regulatory framework that promotes AI’s responsible and ethical use while ensuring that high-risk AI systems are subject to appropriate scrutiny and oversight.

Limited risk category

AI systems are categorized into different levels of risk based on their potential impact on society and the level of harm they could cause. The systems categorized as Limited Risk are considered less risky than their high-risk counterparts and thus face fewer regulatory constraints. However, while they do not require the same level of scrutiny, they must still adhere to specific transparency obligations to maintain accountability and trustworthiness in their deployment.

This means that the developers and operators of these systems must be able to provide clear explanations of how the system works, what data it uses, and how it makes decisions. This is critical to building and maintaining public trust in AI systems and ensuring they are used ethically and responsibly.

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Minimal or no risk

The proposal referred to here pertains to using artificial intelligence (AI) in certain applications, specifically those under the minimal risk category. Some examples of such applications include AI-powered video games and spam filters.

The key aspect of this proposal is that it seeks to minimize regulatory burdens placed on such systems, thereby promoting innovation and development in areas where risks associated with the use of AI are deemed negligible or non-existent. By doing so, the proposal aims to create an environment conducive to the growth of AI-driven technologies, which, in turn, can benefit a wide range of industries and users.

Conformity assessment and risk management

The European Union’s AI Act sets out a detailed and comprehensive conformity assessment process for high-risk AI systems. This involves evaluating the systems’ compliance with the regulatory framework, which includes assessing their ability to handle risks appropriately. Risk management is paramount in this process because it helps identify and mitigate potential threats from using AI systems. Doing so ensures that AI applications align with European standards and legal requirements, safeguarding the well-being and privacy of individuals and society.

The conformity assessment process is designed to be rigorous and thorough, covering aspects such as data quality, transparency, accountability, and reliability. It involves various stakeholders, including manufacturers, importers, distributors, and users, who ensure that the high-risk AI systems they produce, supply, or operate comply with the EU’s regulatory requirements. By setting high standards for AI systems, the EU aims to foster innovation, economic growth, and social progress while promoting a trustworthy and human-centric approach to AI.

Transparency obligations

The European Union’s AI Act is built on the principle of transparency, which is particularly crucial for high-risk and limited-risk AI systems. The developers and operators of such systems must comply with specific transparency obligations, which include providing comprehensive documentation on the AI’s functionality, purpose, and potential risks. The aim is to ensure accountability and help build trust among users and other stakeholders by providing them with a clear understanding of how the AI operates and what it is designed to achieve.

This documentation should include detailed information on the data used to train the AI, its decision-making processes, and the various factors that can influence its outcomes. By adhering to these transparency obligations, developers and operators can demonstrate their commitment to ethical and responsible AI development, essential for building a sustainable future for AI technology.

Human oversight in high-risk AI systems

The European Union’s AI Act mandates that high-risk AI systems must have human oversight to address the concerns regarding their potential misuse. This human oversight essentially involves the intervention of a human in the decision-making processes to ensure that critical decisions are not solely reliant on AI algorithms. The EU recognizes the importance of human oversight in maintaining ethical standards and preventing unintended consequences in sensitive areas such as healthcare and law enforcement.

The involvement of human experts in such areas helps to ensure that the decisions made are fair, transparent, and unbiased. Human oversight is also significant in identifying and correcting errors or biases the AI system may have introduced. Therefore, the EU AI Act seeks to balance innovation and ethical values by mandating human oversight over high-risk AI systems.

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Regulation of AI in high-risk applications

The European Union’s recently introduced AI Act has significantly emphasized regulating the use of artificial intelligence in high-risk applications, including critical sectors like medical devices. AI technologies will be scrutinized in healthcare settings to ensure they meet the required safety, efficacy, and compliance standards.

The Act aims to balance promoting innovation in healthcare and safeguarding patient well-being. By carefully regulating the use of AI in medical devices, the EU is taking a proactive approach towards addressing the potential risks associated with these technologies while leveraging their potential benefits to improve healthcare outcomes.

Regulatory framework proposal on AI

The European Commission has proposed a regulatory framework that takes a risk-based approach to govern artificial intelligence (AI) use. This approach involves categorizing AI systems based on potential risks and developing tailored regulatory responses for each category.

By doing this, the framework aims to provide a flexible and adaptable system that can effectively address the risks associated with various AI applications. The framework recognizes the diverse range of AI applications. It seeks to balance the benefits of these applications with potential risks, ensuring that the development and use of AI are responsible and safe.

Social scoring systems

Within the EU AI Act framework, a comprehensive approach is taken to address the intricate landscape of social scoring systems, particularly when applied in high-risk scenarios. Social scoring involves meticulously evaluating individuals based on personal characteristics, socioeconomic status, and other factors.

The Act meticulously regulates the deployment of such systems to mitigate the potential for discrimination and safeguard individuals’ privacy and dignity. This regulatory initiative underscores the imperative of responsible AI deployment, emphasizing the need for ethical considerations and human-centric principles.

Risks in critical infrastructures

The European Union’s AI Act has expanded its regulatory scope to include AI technologies that operate within critical infrastructures, such as energy and transportation. These applications have been classified as high-risk, and as a result, they are subjected to rigorous assessments to ensure their reliability, safety, and resilience.

This designation recognizes the potential societal consequences of any disruptions in these domains and aims to address and mitigate any potential threats that may arise proactively. By doing so, the EU AI Act endeavors to safeguard critical infrastructure and ensure it can function effectively and efficiently without posing any risks to the public or the environment.

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Large language models and foundation models

Large language models have become increasingly popular, especially with the advent of generative AI capabilities. However, it is important to recognize the potential risks associated with these models. Acknowledging these risks, the European Union’s AI Act categorizes large language models as high-risk applications. This classification is based on their ability to generate content that could threaten fundamental rights or societal values.

The regulatory framework of the AI Act emphasizes the importance of scrutiny throughout the entire development and deployment phases of these AI technologies. This includes balancing innovation with the responsibility to prevent unintended consequences. By taking a detailed, risk-based approach to regulating large language models, the EU seeks to promote innovation while protecting the rights and values of its citizens.

Remote biometric identification systems

The recently introduced EU AI Act has laid stringent regulations on remote biometric identification systems. These systems are considered a subset of high-risk AI applications, and the Act has put in place measures to ensure that the sensitive biometric data of individuals is protected. The primary objective of these regulations is to safeguard the privacy of individuals and enforce strict standards and safeguards in deploying these systems.

The Act has taken a focused regulatory approach, underscoring the importance of mitigating potential risks associated with using biometric information in AI applications. These measures aim to promote transparency, accountability, and trust in AI systems and ensure that individuals’ rights are protected when using their biometric data in AI applications.

AI in publicly accessible spaces

The European Union’s AI Act is a regulatory framework that addresses the potential risks of deploying AI in publicly accessible spaces. The Act takes a discerning stance towards high-risk AI systems, such as facial recognition technologies, and advocates for meticulous scrutiny to prevent potential abuses. This approach ensures that such technologies adhere to established ethical standards and respect individuals’ privacy rights.

The EU AI Act aims to balance ensuring public safety and safeguarding citizens’ freedoms. It recognizes that AI technology can be incredibly powerful and transformative but can be misused if not regulated properly. The Act seeks to prevent such misuse by imposing strict requirements on developing and deploying high-risk AI systems.

The regulatory framework mandates that developers of high-risk AI systems conduct a thorough risk assessment and provide detailed documentation before deploying the systems. This documentation must include information on the system’s intended use, its accuracy and reliability, and the potential impact on individuals’ rights and freedoms. Additionally, the Act requires that individuals be informed whenever interacting with an AI system and provided with information on how their data is used.


The EU AI Act is a comprehensive regulatory framework that categorizes AI systems into different risk levels, ensuring a tailored approach to their governance. The Act aims to foster the responsible development and deployment of AI technologies within the European Union by addressing potential risks associated with high-risk applications and promoting transparency, accountability, and fairness.

It establishes a European Artificial Intelligence Board to oversee the implementation of the regulations. It provides a clear set of requirements for a high-risk AI system, including mandatory testing, documentation, and human oversight.

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