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Silicon Valley Heads to Europe, Nervous About New Rules

In an interview, Ms. Vestager said artificial intelligence was one of the world’s most promising technologies, but it presents many dangers because it requires trusting complex algorithms to make decisions based on vast amounts of data. She said there must be privacy protections, rules to prevent the technology from causing discrimination, and requirements that ensure companies using the systems can explain how they work, she said.

She raised particular concerns about the expanding use of facial recognition technology and said new restrictions might be needed before it was “everywhere.”

Ms. Vestager said she was looking forward to Mr. Zuckerberg’s visit. While she was curious to hear his ideas about artificial intelligence and digital policy, she said, Europe was not going to wait to act.

“We will do our best to avoid unintended consequences,” she said. “But, obviously, there will be intended consequences.”

Facebook declined to comment.

Europe is working on the artificial intelligence policy at the direction of Ursula von der Leyen, the new head of the European Commission, which is the executive branch for the 27-nation bloc. Ms. von der Leyen, who took office in November, immediately gave Ms. Vestager a 100-day deadline to release an initial proposal about artificial intelligence.

The tight time frame has raised concerns that the rules are being rushed. Artificial intelligence is not monolithic and its use varies depending on the field where it is being applied. Its effectiveness largely relies on data pulled from different sources. Overly broad regulations could stand in the way of the benefits, such as diagnosing disease, building self-driving vehicles or creating more efficient energy grids, some in the tech industry warned.

“There is an opportunity for leadership, but it cannot just be regulatory work,” said Ian Hogarth, a London-based angel investor who focuses on artificial intelligence. “Just looking at this through the lens of regulations makes it hard to push the frontiers of what’s possible.”

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