It would be just typical of the E.U. to place citizens’ rights ahead of convenience and profitability for brands — especially tech brands. They do it all the time. Look at the way they just expanded the Digital Services Act to place detailed restrictions on the behavior of almost all “online platforms” (a term that certainly covers hosting services, marketplaces, social media and content-sharing platforms; how sweeping the definition is the courts will doubtless decide).

Here’s another opportunity for them to play spoilsport.

With customer support, service and experience managers rushing to embrace generative AI and increase the deployment of AI-powered conversational tools (so far, much more text than voice), here comes Gartner with a prediction: By 2028, the E.U. will mandate “the right to talk to a human” in customer support and service interactions.

It could happen anywhere

To be clear, although Gartner has made a specific, dated forecast relating to the E.U., it’s not restricting the prediction to Europe. It says that “governments” (no qualifier) may impact support and service teams with “digital only ambitions.”

But if it happens, I predict that it will happen first in Europe. Read more here.

What about the ‘new automation mindset’?

That phrase was coined by Vijay Tella, founder and CEO of Workato, in a book I reviewed here. It ushers in an era where businesses will soon have the tools to be, essentially, fully automated, an era of “AI-for-all.” There will still be humans in the loop, but their role will be radically changed.

If the E.U. does step in to mandate the availability, at least, of non-automated customer support, does interference in enterprise AI stop there? I doubt we’ll see mandatory availability of human-created content, but we might well see mandatory identification of AI-generated content.

Dig deeper: Generative AI faces more regulatory and legal challenges

Taming the dragon

AI, including generative AI, is here to stay and here to disrupt in one way or another. That doesn’t make it some kind of fire-breathing technobeast out of human control. I’ve written before about some of the ways generative AI could itself be disrupted:

  • By preventing it (legally) from scraping the data it needs to function through application of copyright law.
  • By preventing it (technologically) from scraping the data it needs to function (protecting images from AI appropriation has come a long way in the last few months).
  • By finding it in breach of regulations like GDPR (is it unwittingly gathering personal information as it trawls the web?).

We can add to that list: By regulating its use in public-facing business functions. Any brand that thinks it’s time to shrink its human customer support staff because AI can cope with most incoming queries…maybe wait until 2028.


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