Brazil has been discussing since 2020 the creation of a Legal Framework for Artificial Intelligence, with Bill 21/2020. Companies in the sector, however, are not aware of the discussions: according to a Google survey of more than 700 startups, only 4% know about the project, and 16% admit they know nothing or almost nothing about it.
O PL 21/2020 is currently awaiting discussion in the Senate, after approval in the Chamber in September 2021. At the time, the text defined that only the Union could legislate on the subject, discarding municipal and state laws about the subject.
In addition, sectoral entities — such as regulatory agencies and the Central Bank — were responsible for regulating and monitoring the risk of the use of AI in companies in each branch of the economy.
the project of Legal Framework for Artificial Intelligence was criticized for issues such as accountability: there can only be punishments to those responsible for the systems when there is guilt or intent. For some experts, this could lead to a “widespread irresponsibility” scenario.
The Google for Startups research, carried out in partnership with the Brazilian Startups Association (Abstartups) and Box1824, points out that Brazilian startups that work with artificial intelligence are little inserted in the regulatory debate and have little knowledge on the subject.
Only 4% of the interviewed startups know the PL 21/2020, and 16% say they know nothing or almost nothing about the text. On the other hand, 43% believe that regulation is very or extremely important for the development of the sector in Brazil.
“We need to encourage the participation of startups and technology giants in these debates, after all, in practice, they are the experts on the subject”, defends André Barrence, director of Google for Startups for Latin America. “This co-participation between the public and the private is necessary so that we do not have an empty regulation.”
The participation of big techs, however, was also criticized during the proceedings in the Chamber. According to a report by technoblog September 2021, the rapid approval was in part due to lobby of the giants. The text was not put for public consultation on the Chamber’s website, and few public hearings were held.
Lack of professionals is a problem for startups
Another point of Google’s research concerns the difficulties for the sector to grow in Brazil. One of the problems pointed out is already well known: lack of qualified labor. For 57% of startups, this is what most harms the development of artificial intelligence in Brazil.
In addition to the few trained professionals, there is still competition from foreign companies. For 37% of the startups interviewed, the flight of human capital is what most hinders the growth of AI in Brazil.
Since there is no way to compete with foreign currency offers, many companies try to use the purpose of the product they develop as an argument to convince employees to stay.
For 33% of startups, what most hinders the growth of AI in Brazil is another factor: the lack of a culture of clean and organized data. This causes professionals to take longer than usual to roll out new products, driving away customers who ask for quick results.