The adoption of the AI Act by the European Parliament on March 13th, 2024 is going to have an enduring impact on the cultural sector, setting an example for responsible governance whilst giving organisations the space they need to reframe their processes according with the opportunities offered by this cutting-edge technology.

But in what terms should cultural organisations welcome this groundbreaking decision? CUMEDIAE’s co-founder Ignasi Guardans shares his insights on the topic:

“It is difficult to measure, even to properly understand, the real impact of the irruption of AI in our societies, in our economies, in our lives. Some people go back to the first or the second Industrial Revolution to find a reference point for what this may represent as a change. And I tend to agree with that.

In particular, the impact in creative creation and in the distribution of creative content will certainly be huge. And while it offers incredible new opportunities, it also poses impressive challenges to creators, performers and to almost any other IP rights holders along the value chain.

We welcome and salute the solid and balanced approach of the European Parliament and the Council in approving the very first Law on this matter. And we share the approach to this important legal change made by Culture Action Europe in this Informative Note”.

Building on this statement, let’s dive a bit deeper into the implications of the AI Act for the cultural sector.

On one hand, generative AI tools are becoming increasingly proficient in creating customised texts, multimedia contents and so on, empowering culture professionals in boosting their productivity. Taking this into consideration, the AI Act requires content creators to watermark text, images, videos and other AI-generated content, with the intention to safeguard transparency and encourage critical thinking. Looking forward, if AI is able to reproduce and design every kind of content, what role will the workers of the creative industries play in the future?

On the other hand, AI outputs don’t come out of nowhere: the majority of AI datasets are trained with pieces of online content, including e.g. newspaper articles and books, that are subject to copyright legislation. Therefore, the AI Act has promoted copyright protection policies which ensure rightsholders to expressly reserve the use of works. The goal is to create a new market balance in which AI models continue to grow while preserving the rights of the authors, who could benefit from the use of their creations for AI training.

Finally, mastering the use of these tools requires a combined effort in promoting AI literacy across organisations as to make the most of them. In particular, the process of creative creation should be accompanied with a context-based understanding of

– What is the most suitable set of instructions (the so-called ‘prompts’) to use in order to get better outputs in terms of overall quality and precision;

– When it is appropriate to use AI, depending on elements such as the actors involved, the subject matter and the complexity of the task.

As the European Union is establishing a worldwide leadership on AI, it is desirable that its use will be shaped in accordance to the protection of fundamental rights and cultural norms and with the direct support of creative sectors and rightsholders, which provide valuable insights on the needs of the professionals working in this field.