The UK is in a strong position to be a world leader in the development of artificial intelligence (AI). This position, coupled with the wider adoption of AI, could deliver a major boost to the economy for years to come. The recent report by the House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence, AI in the UK: Ready, Willing and Able? concluded that the best way to do this is to put ethics at the centre of AI’s development and use.
The Chairman of the Committee, Lord Clement-Jones, said: “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.
“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.
“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.”
The Committee’s five principles are:
- Artificial intelligence should be developed for the common good and benefit of humanity.
- Artificial intelligence should operate on principles of intelligibility and fairness.
- Artificial intelligence should not be used to diminish the data rights or privacy of individuals, families or communities.
- All citizens should have the right to be educated to enable them to flourish mentally, emotionally and economically alongside artificial intelligence.
- The autonomous power to hurt, destroy or deceive human beings should never be vested in artificial intelligence.
The Committee calls for these principles to form the basis of a cross-sector AI code, which can be adopted nationally, and internationally.
The report also concluded that individuals need to be able to have greater personal control over their data, and the way in which it is used. The ways in which data is gathered and accessed needs to change, so that everyone can have fair and reasonable access to data, while citizens and consumers can protect their privacy and personal agency. This means using established concepts, such as open data, ethics advisory boards and data protection legislation, and developing new frameworks and mechanisms, such as data portability and data trusts.
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