By Regine Paul, Dept of Government.
This chapter introduces and critically evaluates alternative conceptualizations of public regulation of AITs in what is still a nascent field of research. As often in new regulatory domains, there is a tendency both of re-inventing the wheel – by disregarding insights from neighboring policy domains (e.g. nano-technology or aviation) – and of creating silos of research – by failing to link up and systematize existing accounts in a wider context of regulatory scholarship. The aim of this chapter is to counter both tendencies; first by offering a systematic review of existing social science publications on AIT regulation, second by situating this review in the larger research landscape on (technology) regulation. This opens up for problematizing the relative dominance of narrow and rather a-political concepts of AI regulation in parts of the literature so far. In line with the aims of this Handbook (Paul 2022), I outline a critical political economy perspective that helps expose the politics of regulating AITs beyond applied ethics or “rational” risk-based interventions. Throughout the chapter, I use illustrative examples from my own primary research (documents and semi-structured expert interviews) on how the EU Commission narrates and seeks to enact its proposed AI Act.