Posted on April 16, 2018 by staff

Lords Committee: UK can lead the way on ethical AI


Britain has the potential to be a world leader in artificial intelligence but it must put ethics at the centre of its development and use.

That is one of the key conclusions of a new report published today by the House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence.

The ‘AI in the UK: Ready, Willing and Able?’ report found that the UK’s position, along with the wider adoption of AI, could deliver a major boost to its economy for years to come.

“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,” said Lord Clement-Jones, chairman of the committee.

“The UK contains leading AI companies, a dynamic academic research culture, and a vigorous start-up ecosystem as well as a host of legal, ethical, financial and linguistic strengths.

“We should make the most of this environment, but it is essential that ethics take centre stage in AI’s development and use.”

The report concluded that many jobs will be enhanced by AI, many will disappear and many new will be created, and has called for significant government investment in skills and training to mitigate the negative effects of AI. Re-training will become a lifelong necessity.

Among the reports other recommendations is that individuals need to be able to have greater control over their data; the monopolisation of data by big tech companies must be avoided; the prejudices of the past must not be unwittingly built into automated systems; and children need to be adequately prepared at earlier stages of education for working with and using AI.

The committee has also called for the government to draw up a national policy framework to ensure the coordination and successful delivery of AI policy in the UK, and that it should use targeted procurement to provide a boost to AI development and deployment.

Furthermore, the report stated that transparency in AI is crucial. The industry, through the AI Council, should establish a voluntary mechanism to inform consumers when AI is being used to make significant or sensitive decisions.

Lord Clement-Jones added: “AI is not without its risks and the adoption of the principles proposed by the committee will help to mitigate these.

“An ethical approach ensures the public trusts this technology and sees the benefits of using it. It will also prepare them to challenge its misuse.

“We want to make sure that this country remains a cutting-edge place to research and develop this exciting technology. However, start-ups can struggle to scale up on their own. Our recommendations for a growth fund for SMEs and changes to the immigration system will help to do this.

“We’ve asked whether the UK is ready willing and able to take advantage of AI. With our recommendations, it will be.”