Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning , Next-Generation Technologies & Secure Development , Standards, Regulations & Compliance

UK Lawmakers Call for Swift Adoption of AI Policy

UK Risks Falling Behind EU and US in AI Governance, Parliamentary Committee Warns
UK Lawmakers Call for Swift Adoption of AI Policy
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British lawmakers are calling on the government to speed up efforts to articulate a comprehensive artificial intelligence policy in the face of challenges ranging from bias to existential risk.

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Members of the Science, Innovation and Technology Committee of the U.K Parliament on Thursday said the pace of AI growth is outstripping the government's current commitment to ensuring that the public interest influences its development.

The Conservative government of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in March published a strategy on the use of artificial intelligence that did not envision new legislation. The strategy's five guiding principles of safety, transparency, fairness, accountability and competition can be implemented by existing institutions, the white paper concluded.

Members of the parliamentary committee say otherwise. The paper's "proposed approach is already risking falling behind the pace of development of AI," they wrote. "This threat is made more acute by the efforts of other jurisdictions, principally the European Union and the United States, to set international standards."

The European Union is close to finalizing AI regulations meant to mitigate risks and ban applications considered too risky for society. The United States is unlikely to see legislation comparable to Europe's AI Act approved in Congress anytime soon, but the Biden administration in April initiated a potential precursor to regulations (see: Feds Call for Certifying, Assessing Veracity of AI Systems).

Further delay by the U.K. government to act could erode Britain's position "as a center of AI research," the lawmakers said.

The Sunak government is keen to transition the U.K into a global hub of AI and has earmarked 54 million pounds for AI research. Sunak earlier this month announced he will host a global AI submit later this year.

"If the Government's ambitions are to be realized and its approach is to go beyond talks, it may well need to move with greater urgency in enacting the legislative powers it says will be needed," committee Chair Greg Clark said.

Thursday's report highlights 12 areas of risk the government should consider. They include privacy threats tied to AI's bulk data processing, the difficulty of securing access to requisite computing power, and who will shoulder liability if third parties use AI models to do harm.

The lawmakers called on the government to act before the 2024 general election in the U.K. If the EU's AI Act took precedence globally, they said, any different approach to AI governance would make it "difficult to deviate," citing the global heft of Europe's General Data Protection Regulation as an example.

About the Author

Akshaya Asokan

Akshaya Asokan

Senior Correspondent, ISMG

Asokan is a U.K.-based senior correspondent for Information Security Media Group's global news desk. She previously worked with IDG and other publications, reporting on developments in technology, minority rights and education.

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