GitHub CEO Championing Open Source Developers’ AI Act Exemption

Thomas Dohmke, the CEO of GitHub, believes that developers working on open-source projects should be exempt from the European Union’s newly proposed regulations on artificial intelligence. He stated that Europe still has a chance to lead the world in AI and open source is a crucial component of it.

At the EU Open Source Policy Summit in Brussels, Dohmke spoke about the significance of open source in Europe’s AI industry. “The United States and China do not have to monopolize AI,” he said.

The proposed regulations, referred to as the Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act), were first introduced in April 2021 as a response to the increasing impact of AI in people’s daily lives. The AI Act would regulate AI applications based on their level of risk and would be the first AI-specific law established by a major regulatory body.

The European Parliament will vote on a draft of the AI Act in the near future and, based on further discussions and debates, it could potentially be adopted by the end of 2023.

Open source + AI

Open source and AI are closely connected, as collaboration and shared data are essential for AI development. Despite its noble intentions, the AI Act could have serious consequences for the open-source community, potentially hindering AI progress. This is because the Act could lead to legal liability for General Purpose AI Systems (GPAI) and increase the power of big tech companies, as independent open-source developers lack the resources to handle legal challenges.

GitHub, a $7.5 billion U.S. company owned by Microsoft, is concerned about the AI Act for several reasons. Open-source software is distributed globally and GitHub, which has surpassed 100 million users, depends on developers from all over the world. A report from Runa Capital revealed that 58% of the fastest-growing open-source startups are based outside the U.S. with Germany, France, and the U.K. being particularly significant players.

Another reason why GitHub is concerned about the AI Act is Europe’s emergence as a leader in tech regulation, as seen with the GDPR data privacy regulations. European regulations can quickly become a global standard.

Dohmke stated that the AI Act is crucial and could set the standard for AI regulation worldwide. It is important for European leadership in technology and the future of the European economy. The AI Act must be fair and balanced for the open-source community.

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