UK Government response full of contractions

Today the UK Government published its updated thinking on regulating artificial intelligence, but sadly it is full of contradictions.

Respondents to the consultation (like AI Governance Limited) prioritised transparency in AI usage so people could identify when and how AI is being used by organisations. But there’s no move from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to mandate that we must be told when tools we’re using contain AI, and no commitment to ensure the language used is meaningful to people from all part of society.

It’s good to give regulators a key role in implementing AI regulation in their markets, but respondents were concerned about whether they’re up to the job. Do our regulators have the technical AI skills and expertise for effective implementation? I know that some regulators have been busy recruiting and upskilling staff, but will the £10m promised by the Government to enhance regulators’ capabilities be enough to meet these demands?

The AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park last November showed that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his team are well aware of the international nature of AI regulation. So it’s an opportunity missed when this response doesn’t commit to monitoring international interoperability to facilitate businesses trading and developing products for global markets.

Finally, we wanted to see an AI regulatory framework that was established from the outset to keep pace with technological advancements in AI. The government response doesn’t provide a detailed strategy on how it will ensure the framework remains adaptable to future technological developments, whilst balancing innovation and risk mitigation.

I’m fortunate that my clients want to “do the right thing” when they’re exploring AI use and developing strategies to use AI with wisdom and integrity. But even with good intentions, they want to be guided by regulation. And of course, those with bad intentions need to be curbed.

I’m all for a pro-innovation approach, but the absence of detailed regulation doesn’t let the Government off the hook – it just provides a vacuum that could be filled by bad practice.

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