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First regulatory sandbox on Artificial Intelligence presented

A pilot of the first regulatory sandbox on Artificial Intelligence (AI) was presented earlier this week by the government of Spain and the European Commission at an event held in Brussels in the presence of Spanish, European authorities as well as renowned experts in the field.

image of brain surrounded by data

© image by KanawatTH - Getty Images/iStock

The sandbox aims to bring competent authorities close to companies that develop AI to define best practices that will guide the implementation of the future European Commission's AI Regulation (Artificial Intelligence Act). This would also ensure that the legistlation can be implemented in two years.

The regulatory sandbox is a way to connect innovators and regulators and provide a controlled environment for them to cooperate. Such a collaboration between regulators and innovators should facilitates the development, testing and validation of innovative AI systems with a view to ensuring compliance with the requirements of the AI Regulation.

While the entire ecosystem is preparing for the AI Act, this sandbox initiative is expected to generate easy-to-follow, future-proof best practice guidelines and other supporting materials. Such outputs are expected to facilitate the implementation of rules by companies, in particular SMEs and start-ups. 

This sandbox pilot initiated by the Spanish government will look at operationalising the requirements of the future AI regulation as well as other features such as conformity assessments or post-market activities.

Thanks to this pilot experience, obligations and how to implement them will be documented, for AI system providers (participants of the sandbox) and systematised in a good practice and lessons learnt implementation guidelines. The deliverables will also include methods to control and follow up that are useful for supervising national authorities in charge of implementing the supervisory mechanisms that the regulation stablishes.

In order to strengthen the cooperation of all possible actors at the European level, this exercise will remain open to other Member States that will be able to follow or join the pilot in what could potentially become a pan-European AI regulatory sandbox. Cooperation at EU level with other Member States will be pursued within the framework of the Expert Group on AI and Digitalisation of Businesses set up by the Commission.

The financing of this sandbox is drawn from the Recovery and Resilience Funds assigned to the Spanish Government, through the Spanish Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, and in particular through the Spanish National AI Strategy (Component 16 of the Plan). The overall budget for the pilot will be approximately 4.3M EUR for approximately three years.

A guide available to all Member States and the European Commission

The tests will begin from October 2022 and the results will be published during the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2023. Experience collected in the sandbox will be presented in the form of good practices and implementation guidelines and will be made available to all Member States and the European Commission and may be used in preparation of the implementation of the future AI Regulation.