The European Union is setting the standards in many areas of regulation, spurring U.S. regulators to try to get ahead on issues such as artificial intelligence, former agency and division heads said.

“There’s a natural competition among regulators to try to be the first,” said Maneesha Mithal, a Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati partner who led the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection for more than a decade.