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Saturday 30 May 2020


House of Lords: UK must ‘lead the way’ with AI

Written by Chris Lemmon

The House of Lords has called on the UK industry to lead the way in the development of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions, providing the economy with a major boost for years to come.

The House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence published its AI in the UK: Ready, Willing and Able? report today, with chairman of the Committee, Lord Clement-Jones, noting that the UK has a unique opportunity to shape AI positively for the public’s benefit. “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.”

Clement-Jones also stressed the importance of ensuring ethics takes a centre stage in AI’s development and use. “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.”

The report outlined five key principles to form the basis of a cross-sector AI code, which can be adopted nationally:

1. Artificial intelligence should be developed for the common good and benefit of humanity.
2. Artificial intelligence should operate on principles of intelligibility and fairness.
3. Artificial intelligence should not be used to diminish the data rights or privacy of individuals, families or communities.
4. All citizens should have the right to be educated to enable them to flourish mentally, emotionally and economically alongside artificial intelligence.
5. The autonomous power to hurt, destroy or deceive human beings should never be vested in artificial intelligence.

The report also noted that AI will undoubtedly change the employment landscape, with many jobs disappearing as a result and many jobs being created. Significant investment in skills and training will be necessary to mitigate the negative effects, according to the report, while the monopolisation of data by big technology firms must be avoided. To negate this, the government will work together with the Competitions and Markets Authority to review the use of data by large technology firms operating in the UK.

“We want to make sure that this country remains a cutting-edge place to research and develop this exciting technology,” Clement-Jones concluded. “However, startups 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.”


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