UK sets out proposals for governing AI

Regulators like Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will apply six principles to oversee AI

Posted 19 July 2022 by Christine Horton

The government has published new plans for regulating the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

The new AI paper includes proposals for addressing future risks and opportunities around the use of AI systems. The approach is based on six core principles that regulators must apply to implement these in ways that best meet the use of AI in their sectors. 

  • Ensure that AI is used safely
  • Ensure that AI is technically secure and functions as designed
  • Make sure that AI is appropriately transparent and explainable 
  • Consider fairness 
  • Identify a legal person to be responsible for AI 
  • Clarify routes to redress or contestability

Regulators – such as Ofcom, the Competition and Markets Authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency – will be asked to interpret and implement the principles.

The government says they will be encouraged to consider lighter touch options which could include guidance and voluntary measures or creating sandboxes – such as a trial environment where businesses can check the safety and reliability of AI tech before introducing it to market.

The Alan Turing Institute has also published an independent report calling for greater coordination between regulators to meet the challenge of regulating the use of AI.

Industry experts, academics and civil society organisations focusing on this technology can share their views on putting this approach into practice through a call for evidence launched this week. Responses will be considered alongside further development of the framework in the forthcoming AI White Paper which will explore how to put the principles into practice. 

AI investment

The AI paper comes as the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill is introduced to Parliament which DCMS says will “transform the UK’s data laws” to boost innovation in technologies such as AI. The changes will deliver around £1 billion in savings for businesses, it claims.

The government is keen to point out the UK’s approach to managing AI differs Europe. Instead of giving responsibility for AI governance to a central regulatory body, as the EU is doing through its AI Act, it says its proposals “will allow different regulators to take a tailored approach to the use of AI in a range of settings. This better reflects the growing use of AI in a range of sectors.”

UK AI firms attracted $4.65 billion in private investment last year.

The government has also published the first AI Action Plan to show how it is “delivering against the National AI Strategy and identifying new priorities for the year ahead.”

The government says it has invested more than £2.3 billion in AI since 2014. Since publishing the National AI Strategy last year, the government has announced new investment in the long term needs of the sector, including funding for up to 2,000 new AI and data science scholarships, and opened up new visa routes so the industry has the skills and talent to continue to thrive. 

As part of the strategy, the AI Standard Hub was unveiled at the start of the year. The Hub will provide users across industry, academia and regulators with practical tools and educational materials to effectively use and shape AI technical standards.  The interactive hub platform, led by the Alan Turing Institute with the support of the British Standards Institution and National Physical Laboratory, will launch in Autumn 2022.