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UK Announces New Proposals for AI Regulation

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The United Kingdom (UK) has set forth new proposals for regulating the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies while promoting innovation, boosting public trust, and protecting data. 

The new set of plans comes as the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill is introduced to Parliament. The bill includes measures to achieve responsible AI use while also reducing compliance burdens on businesses to boost the economy. It will leverage the benefits of Brexit to keep a high standard of protection for personal data while also delivering nearly  £1 billion in savings for businesses.

These new proposals demonstrate that the UK is taking a less centralized approach than the European Union (EU) when it comes to AI regulation. 

Rules to Address Risks and Opportunities

The AI paper, which was published on July 18, outlines the government’s approach to regulating AI in the UK. It proposes rules to address future risks and opportunities so organizations can understand how they can develop and use AI systems. These rules will also help consumers stay confident that such systems are safe, transparent, and robust. 

The new approach focuses on six core principles that regulators must apply, and it aims to support growth and avoid unnecessary barriers placed on businesses. It could lead to organizations sharing information about how they test their specific AI’s reliability. 

According to Digital Minister Damian Collins, “We want to make sure the UK has the right rules to empower businesses and protect people as AI and the use of data keeps changing the ways we live and work.” 

“It is vital that our rules offer clarity to businesses, confidence to investors and boost public trust. Our flexible approach will help us shape the future of AI and cement our global position as a science and tech superpower.” 

Core Principles of UK’s Proposal

The UK government’s proposals are less centralized than the EU’s guidelines. While the EU is giving responsibility for AI governance to a central regulation body through the AI Act, the UK’s proposal will allow different regulators to take their own approach to the use of AI in a wide range of settings. This approach is more fitting given the growing use of AI in different sectors of the economy. 

The goal is to create proportionate and adaptable regulation so that AI continues to be adopted throughout the UK to boost productivity and growth. 

The core principles of the new proposals require developers and users to do the following: 

  • 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

These principles will be interpreted and implemented by regulators like Ofcom, the Competition and Markets Authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office, and the Financial Conduct Authority. 

The proposal has also launched a call for evidence where industry experts, academics, and civil society organizations focused on AI can share their views on the new approach. The responses will be considered alongside further development of the framework in the upcoming AI White Paper, which will explore the ways in which such guidelines can be put into practice. 

Professor Dame Wendy Hall is Acting Chair of the AI Council. 

“We welcome these important early steps to establish a clear and coherent approach to regulating AI. This is critical to driving responsible innovation and supporting our AI ecosystem to thrive,” Professor Hall said. ‘The AI Council looks forward to working with the government on the next steps to develop the White Paper.” 

Alongside these new proposals, the government also published the first AI Action Plan to provide more insight into the National AI Strategy and how its identifying new priorities. 

Since 2014, the UK government has invested over £2.3 billion in AI, and it has announced new investment aimed at long term needs, including funding for up to 2,000 new AI and data science scholarships. It has also introduced new visa routes to help provide the industry with the skills and talent needed to grow. 

Alex McFarland is a Brazil-based writer who covers the latest developments in artificial intelligence & blockchain. He has worked with top AI companies and publications across the globe.