Risk Classification – EU AI Act

Risk classification - EU AI Act

Risk Classification – EU AI Act

The European Union has introduced a comprehensive framework to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) through the AI Act. This landmark legislation classifies AI systems into different risk categories, ensuring that appropriate measures are in place to manage their potential impacts. In this article, we will explore the risk classification under the EU AI Act, detailing the four types of risks: minimal risk or no risk, limited risk, high risk, and unacceptable risk.



Minimal Risk or No Risk

The AI legislation in Europe categorizes AI systems with minimal or no risk as those that pose little to no threat to individuals’ rights, safety, or well-being. These AI systems are generally considered benign and are subject to the least stringent regulatory requirements under the European Union AI regulation.


  • AI Governance Framework: Minimal risk AI systems are part of the broader AI governance framework but are not heavily regulated. These systems often include AI applications like spam filters, AI-powered games, and automated translation services.


  • AI Legal Requirements: For minimal risk AI, the AI legal requirements are relatively relaxed. Developers are encouraged to follow best practices and ensure transparency, but there is no mandatory compliance with stringent standards.


  • Implementation of AI Act: The implementation of the AI Act for minimal risk AI is straightforward, focusing on encouraging innovation and widespread adoption without significant regulatory hurdles.



Limited Risk

Limited risk AI systems present moderate concerns regarding safety and ethical implications. These systems require transparency and some degree of oversight to ensure they do not inadvertently cause harm.


  • European Union AI Regulation: Under the European Union AI regulation, limited risk AI systems must comply with specific transparency obligations. For example, users should be aware that they are interacting with an AI system.


  • AI Policy in the EU: The AI policy in the EU mandates that limited risk AI systems provide clear information about their functionalities and limitations. This includes chatbots, which must disclose that they are not human operators.


  • AI Regulatory Framework: The AI regulatory framework for limited risk AI includes guidelines on user consent and data protection. These systems must not infringe on users’ privacy or misuse personal data.


  • AI Legal Requirements: While less stringent than those for high-risk AI, the AI legal requirements for limited risk systems ensure that users are informed and protected from potential misuses of the technology.



Risks and Forbidden Practices AI Act Template



High Risk

High risk AI systems are those that have significant implications for individuals’ rights and safety. These systems are subject to rigorous regulatory scrutiny and must meet stringent standards to mitigate potential risks.


  • AI Act Applicability: The AI Act applicability is particularly relevant for high risk AI systems. This category includes applications like biometric identification, critical infrastructure management, and employment-related decision-making tools.


  • AI Governance Framework: For high risk AI, the AI governance framework requires comprehensive risk assessments and compliance with strict safety and performance standards. These systems must undergo regular audits and testing to ensure their reliability and safety.


  • AI Legal Requirements: The AI legal requirements for high risk AI systems include detailed documentation, transparency measures, and mechanisms to ensure accountability. Developers must demonstrate that their systems do not pose undue risks to users.


  • Implementation of AI Act: The implementation of the AI Act for high risk AI involves close monitoring and enforcement by regulatory bodies. Companies deploying these systems in the regions covered by the AI Act must adhere to strict protocols to ensure compliance.



Unacceptable Risk

Unacceptable risk AI systems are those deemed too dangerous to be allowed under any circumstances. The EU AI Act outright bans these applications to protect citizens from severe harm.


  • AI Regulatory Framework: The AI regulatory framework explicitly prohibits AI systems that pose unacceptable risks. This includes applications that manipulate human behavior through subliminal techniques, exploit vulnerabilities of specific groups, or enable social scoring by governments.


  • AI Policy in the EU: The AI policy in the EU is clear on prohibiting unacceptable risk AI systems. The goal is to protect individuals’ fundamental rights and prevent misuse of AI technology that could lead to significant harm.


  • AI Legal Requirements: Under the AI legal requirements, any attempt to develop or deploy unacceptable risk AI systems is illegal. This ensures that such technologies do not enter the market or reach consumers.


  • AI Governance Framework: The AI governance framework includes strict enforcement mechanisms to identify and prevent the deployment of unacceptable risk AI. Regulatory bodies are empowered to take immediate action against entities that violate these prohibitions.


There are some sanctions and penalties related to some of the risks that have been mentioned above. To know more about this, read our article related to the AI Act penalties.



AI Act and the UK

While the AI Act is a significant step for the European Union, it also has implications for countries outside the EU, including the UK.


Although the UK is no longer an EU member state, its AI systems may still be affected if they operate within the EU market. UK-based companies developing or using AI technologies will need to ensure compliance with the EU AI Act to continue doing business with EU countries.


The AI regulation impact on the UK includes potential changes to UK domestic laws to align with EU standards, especially for companies aiming to maintain market access in the EU.


To know more about the UK and the EU AI Act, read our article “Does the AI Act apply to the UK?”.


In conclusion, the AI legislation in Europe through the AI Act categorizes AI systems into minimal risk, limited risk, high risk, and unacceptable risk. This risk classification aims to balance the benefits of AI technology with the need to protect individuals and society from potential harms. The implementation of the AI Act will significantly impact the AI landscape within the EU and beyond ensuring a safer and more ethical use of AI across different regions.



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