ARENA Tuesday seminar: Regine Paul

Regine Paul presents the paper 'Three worlds of risk for a trademark: The cultural political economy of European AI regulation' at the ARENA Tuesday seminar on 8 March 2022.


The European Union is at the forefront of regulating artificial intelligence (AI), seeking to set the pace for global regulation. Its proposed AI Act suggests the first coercive rules for AI system providers and users, including outright bans of some applications and comparatively hefty penalties for non-compliance. Core to its regulatory strategy is a risk-based approach with proportional interventions that escalate with risk levels. While many AI regulation scholars and practitioners interpret risk-based regulation as technocratic rational problem-solving, regulation and governance studies have instead suggested legitimacy and reputation management related explanations. This article investigates how the EU tries to manage its reputation through risk-based AI regulation. Drawing on a cultural political economy framework, combined with a qualitative analysis of primary documents and semi-structured expert interviews, I suggest that the risk heuristic enables the EU to carve out and cohere three much diverse worlds of AI risk regulation: the innovation-enabling world of low-risk AI systems, the risk-mitigating world of high-risk AI systems, and the strict watchdog world of unacceptable AI applications. This risk-based regulatory differentiation allows the EU not only to commit itself to competing policy goals and boost its regulatory reputation with different audiences at once; it is also a crucial branding device in Brussels’ efforts to create a trademark of “trustworthy” AI.

Download paper (restricted access).

Please note that this paper is work in progress and thus has limited distribution, please contact us if you would like access. Do not cite without permission from the author.

The event is hybrid. If you would like to attend digitally, contact Silva Hoffmann to get the zoom link. 

Published Jan. 3, 2022 11:57 AM - Last modified Mar. 4, 2022 7:37 AM