Artificial Intelligence Between Innovation and Regulation

4 November 2023

In an era marked by unprecedented technological evolution, artificial intelligence (AI) is establishing itself as a catalyst for transformation not only in the technological field but also in the social, economic, and legal spheres.

A recent event held at the Bologna Business School addressed the topic of AI from strategic and legal viewpoints, highlighting its increasingly influential role, with a particular focus on the European landscape, where a future is taking shape in which AI might not only follow but actually lead a revolution promising to rewrite the “planet of rules.”

The global context was immediately brought to the forefront by Prof. Maurizio Gabbrielli, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Bologna and Associate Dean for AI at BBS, who opened the event regarding two events that occurred on the same day: the executive order by the President of the United States, Joe Biden, on AI security, and the adherence of G7 members to the 11 guiding principles for the development of advanced systems defined in the Hiroshima Process. This temporal coincidence confirmed the importance and relevance of the ongoing debate and the fact that it must necessarily involve world powers, possibly in a shared and collaborative vision. Gabbrielli then introduced the topic, explaining the functioning of the most well-known generative AIs and recounted the sector’s evolution to date, highlighting the rapid pace at which AI evolves and the need for professionals to stay constantly updated. 

A goal that Bologna Business School pursues and facilitates through the training offered by its new Executive Master’s in Artificial Intelligence for Business, designed to provide participants with a solid set of skills to harness the potential of artificial intelligence in the business context through a transformative educational pathway that assesses the economic, financial, legal and ethical implications associated with AI implementation as well as the cutting-edge tools to develop effective strategies and manage the risks associated with this revolutionary technology.

Collaboration and interdisciplinarity were also central themes in the speech by Antonio Perrucci, Director of the Digital Ecosystem Laboratory (Astrid-LED), professor at LUMSA University in Rome, and author of the book “Artificial Intelligence and Law: A Revolution?”. Perrucci shared his experience in a project that brought together jurists and computer scientists with the goal of exploring the implications of AI in the world of law and business, emphasizing the importance of interdisciplinarity for the development of policies and regulations that can accompany innovation.

The floor was then given to Ugo Ruffolo, Full Professor of Civil Law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Bologna, who described AI as a tangible reality that permeates every aspect of our existence. In this context, he explained, it is imperative that the law does not limit itself to a reactive function but assumes a proactive role, anticipating and guiding technological evolution. In this scenario, the law transforms from a mere observer to an active protagonist capable of influencing the path of AI. Ruffolo also introduced the topic of predictive justice, emphasizing the potential of AI to support the judicial process without replacing the human judge. AI can become an auxiliary tool that provides data-based analysis to inform legal decisions.

The need for explicit regulatory references was also discussed by Professor Andrea Amidei of the Department of Computer Science – Science and Engineering at the University of Bologna, who outlined the expectations of the business world regarding the European perspective on artificial intelligence, focusing on aspects of European legislation that have had the most significant impact on companies, especially when it comes to AI. In his speech, he illustrated how AI has become a pervasive element in business operations, a fact now established that does not require further demonstration. He reflected on the need to balance the creation of new rules with the evolutionary interpretation of existing laws and delved into the discussion on risk-based regulation, a fundamental principle of the European Union’s approach. Finally, he concluded by emphasizing the importance for companies to integrate new internal skills, both technical and legal, to effectively manage and monitor high-risk AI systems: a structural change in internal competencies essential to maintain competitiveness in the market.

Councilor Vincenzo Colla, responsible for economic development and green economy, labour, training, and international relations of the Emilia-Romagna Region, highlighted the crucial role of artificial intelligence as a growth engine. In his speech, he stressed the urgency of a regulatory framework that prevents the creation of technological monopolies and promotes fair and transparent management. He continued by highlighting Europe’s pioneering role in defining AI regulations. Finally, he cited the example of the Bologna Technopole and the Leonardo supercomputer, which mark Europe’s positioning in the global race for innovation. In this context, the councilor succeeded in emphasizing the importance of human capital in the era of automation, mentioning the arrival of a thousand international experts in Bologna, an event destined to transform the city into an epicenter of cultural exchange and technological progress.

The topicality then returned to the fore with the concluding speech by lawyer Marilù Capparelli, Director of Legal Affairs at Google, who reported on a particularly significant meeting that took place on the day of the event: that between the Italian Minister for Enterprise and Made in Italy, Adolfo Urso, with the German Vice Chancellor and the French Minister for Digital Industrial Sovereignty, focused on artificial intelligence. The meeting highlighted the common position of the three ministers on the strategic importance of artificial intelligence for the future and competitiveness of Europe. The three, the lawyer reported, agreed on the need to reduce administrative burdens and to support a robust venture capital ecosystem to foster innovation. Capparelli then highlighted how artificial intelligence is not a new technological novelty but a consolidated presence for over a decade that has already revolutionized the development of everyday products. She cited concrete examples of AI use, such as the Tree Canopy application launched by Google in Italy and DeepMind’s Alpha Fold system, which predicts the structure of proteins with atomic precision. She then emphasized the potential of artificial intelligence to contribute to the productivity of small and medium-sized Italian enterprises, representing over 90% of active companies in the country.

In conclusion, the meeting highlighted that AI is not just a matter of algorithms and data but a phenomenon that touches the very foundations of our society, intersecting technology, law, ethics, and society. For this reason, it requires ongoing dialogue and a multidisciplinary approach. The challenge for Europe is to navigate these uncharted waters so that the benefits of AI are distributed equitably and the challenges are met with collective wisdom, outlining a future in which the old continent can play a leading role in the third AI revolution.


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