In the heated landscape of artificial intelligence (AI), where algorithms reign and the boundaries of innovation blur with uncertainty, a chorus of voices rises, echoing the call for regulation with complex features. These are not just any voices—they are the voices of the “AI elite”, the luminaries of our digital age, studying and analysing constantly, writing millions of pages and urging caution in the face of an unprecedented power.

But as we grapple with the complexities of AI governance, it’s worth remembering that the human race has navigated similar challenges in the past. It will seem simplistic to our AI elite, but I think that we do not have to start a new science from scratch, create original tools to establish brand new complex rules and regulatory methodologies. No need. The past teaches.

Cast your mind back to the tale of Prometheus, the daring Titan who stole fire from the gods and bestowed it upon humanity. In this act of defiance, Prometheus unlocked a source of boundless potential, but also unleashed forces beyond mortal control and was punished “You stole the the blazing flame, the spark of every art and gave it to the mortals” told him Kratos, a sub-god serving Zeus, whose name means “State” in modern Greek… Sounds familiar?

Much like AI, fire brought both enlightenment and peril, offering warmth and protection, food and illumination, tools for hunting, agriculture and building. Besides, cremation serves to escort our dead to eternity. Civilisation started to flourish by fire. But, if we look to the other face of Janus, fire brought -and brings until today-destruction to lives, structures and devastation to the environment.

And so history began with fire. What of the burning of Troy, immortalised by Homer? Here, fire was wielded as a weapon, laying waste to a whole civilisation of the time, leaving nothing but ashes, cadavers and refugees-slaves in its wake. This serves as a stark reminder of the power of fire—and by extension, of AI—to shape the course of history, for better or for worse.

But for just as humanity has tamed the flames, so too can we navigate the digital inferno of AI. It begins with the same tools our ancestors created and we still develop for combatting fire. With establishing clear principles, akin to the commandments of old, to guide the development and deployment of AI technologies. These principles must reflect the values of the civilized world. They must ensure that AI serves humanity rather than subjugating it.

Next, we must cultivate AI literacy, equipping individuals with the skills to cross unhurt the complex paths of this “brave new world”. Much like learning to wield a pocket lighter without burning one’s eyebrows or clothes, AI literacy empowers us to exploit its potential while mitigating its risks.

Most essentially, authorities and market operators must foster collaboration and innovation, drawing upon the collective knowledge of diverse stakeholders in order to shape the future of AI. Just as communities once banded together to combat the ravages of wildfires and created special tools and services for this purpose -which continue to develop- so too must we unite and devise to address the multifaceted challenges posed by AI.

So, let us note the lessons of history as we chart AI governance. Let us recognize the dual nature of AI, its capacity to illuminate and to incinerate, and approach it with prudence. For in the flames of AI lie both promise and peril, and it is our responsibility to ensure that humanity emerges from the inferno unscathed.

Very simply put, the journey towards responsible AI governance is not just about controlling the flames—it’s also about using them to forge a brighter future for all. And as we embark upon this odyssey, let us draw strength from the wisdom of the ages.

From Prometheus stealing fire from the gods to our neighbour’s disastrous barbecue that almost burned down the whole village of our Easter holidays… For in these tales are the keys to our salvation, guiding us towards a world where AI serves as a beacon of progress rather than a combustible of destruction and chaos.

Fotis A. Karayannopoulos is a Lawyer, member of the Legal and Policy Committee of the European Broadcasting Union.