By Sam Nusse and Tim Kelly
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan is leaning towards softer rules governing the use of artificial intelligence (AI) than the European Union as it looks to technology to boost economic growth and make advanced chips a leader. .
By the end of the year, the goal is to work on an approach to AI that is closer to the US perspective than the strict EU-backed rules, said the official, who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Japan’s soft approach could weaken the EU’s efforts to establish the rules as a global standard, with requirements such as companies disclosing copyrighted material to train AI systems to generate content such as text and graphics.
EU industry chief Thierry Breton is visiting Tokyo this week to promote the bloc’s approach to AI regulation as well as strengthen cooperation in semiconductors.
The government official did not elaborate on the areas where Japanese laws may differ from EU laws.
University of Tokyo professor Yutaka Matsu, chairman of the government’s AI Strategy Council, said EU rules are “a little too strict” and would make it almost impossible to copyright material used for deep learning.
“With the EU, it’s less about how to promote innovation and how to get big companies to take responsibility,” said Matsu, chairman of the Deep Learning Association of Japan and independent director of the board of Masayoshi Son SoftBank Group.
Advances in generative AI by companies like Microsoft-backed startup OpAI are fueling both excitement and fear over its potential to transform business and society at large.
The potential is that AI is one of the technologies, including advanced semiconductors and quantum computers, that the US and its fellow industrial democrats are racing to develop with China.
“There are certainly concerns, and I think these are things that should probably be of concern to any democracy,” Breton said.
“With similar partners and friends like Japan or the US, I think it’s important to explain what we’ve done,” Breton said of the EU’s regulatory approach.
For Japan, AI can help deal with population decline that is causing labor shortages.
In addition, state-backed Rapidus could revive demand for the advanced chips it plans to produce as part of an industrial policy aimed at regaining Japan’s lost leadership in technology, the source said.
Japan’s computing power, defined as the availability of graphics processing units (GPUs) used to train AI, lags far behind the US, experts say.
“If you increase the GPUs in Japan by 10 times, it’s probably still less than what OpenAI has,” Professor Matsu said.
(Reporting by Sam Nussey and Tim Kelly; Editing by Christopher Cushing)