Neural networks are changing the Internet. They’ve learned to recognize faces in photos, identify spoken commands, and translate text from one language to another.
All this is sharpening the behavior of online services. But it also means the Internet is poised for an ideological confrontation with the European Union.
In April, the EU laid down new regulations for the collection, storage, and use of personal data, including online data. The General Data Protection Regulation codifies the “right to be forgotten”, and it gives EU authorities the power to fine companies an enormous 20 million euro—or four percent of their global revenue—if they infringe.
But GDPR also restricts what the EU calls “automated individual decision-making.” “They’re talking about machine learning,” says Bryce Goodman, a researcher at Oxford who recently published a paper exploring the potential effects.