House of Lords' Report say UK could lead the way on ethical AI

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A new report from the House of Lords says that the UK is well positioned to become a world leader in the development of artificial intelligence (AI). The wider adoption of AI and the UK’s position within this market could provide a significant boost to the economy going forward.

The report AI in the UK: Ready, Willing and Able?, suggests that the best way forward is to put ethics at the centre of AI development.

According to the Chairman of the Committee, Lord Clement-Jones: “The UK has a unique opportunity to shape AI positively for the public’s benefit and to lead the international community in AI’s ethical development, rather than passively accept its consequences.”

The report highlights the presence of leading AI companies in the UK, together with a dynamic academic research culture as well as vigorous start-up ecosystem.

While the report says the UK should take advantage of its position it should do so only by placing ethics centre stage in AI’s development and use.

The reports suggests that this approach is crucial to ensure that the public trusts this technology and sees the benefits of using it.

Among the report’s other recommendations are a growth fund for SMEs and changes to the immigration system.

While ethical development of AI is at the heart of the report’s findings, it also calls on significant Government investment in skills and training; allowing individuals greater personal control over their data, and the way in which it is used; avoiding the monopolisation of data by big technology companies and encourage greater diversity in the training and recruitment of AI specialists.

The report also calls for greater transparency when AI is used and calls on the Governments to educate young people preparing them to work with and use AI.

The Government is also urged to draw up a national policy framework, in lockstep with the Industrial Strategy, to ensure the coordination and successful delivery of AI policy in the UK.

“We want to make sure that this country remains a cutting-edge place to research and develop this exciting technology,” the report concludes.

This is certainly a powerful and possibly influential report on how AI should be developed and used. There certainly needs to be a debate about how AI is developed and deployed but, while putting ethics at the heart of the UK’s approach is certainly valid, competitors like China, where there are fewer qualms among consumers or technology companies about its use, looks set to become the pre-eminent practitioner of artificial intelligence (AI) in both research and application within the next 12 year.

How the UK responds to that competitive challenge will be crucial.