NEWS12 November 2020

Public backs independent regulation for IT industry

AI News Technology Trends UK

UK – A majority of the UK public would support creating an IT regulator to ensure ethical standards in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), according to a poll from BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and YouGov.

AI circuit board

The poll, which was carried out between 16th and 19th October and surveyed 2,063 adults, found 59% of people believed an independent regulatory body would help keep the IT industry focused on solving society’s problems.

This was substantially more than those who thought politicians ( 22%) or ‘big tech’ companies ( 23%) should be tasked with upholding ethical standards in the industry.

Half of respondents felt they could trust computer scientists to create AI that would improve the quality of their life. However, most people ( 63%) did not trust computer science graduates to write software to make life decisions for them.

The poll also found that 62% of people felt computer programmers should be required to obtain chartered status, similar to that in other professions such as accountancy.

Previous research from BCS had found a lack of trust among the public around the use of algorithms and their influence over people’s lives.

Andy Phippen, fellow of BCS and professor of IT ethics and digital rights at Bournemouth University, said: “Given the greater prevalence of algorithms and increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence being used in government and private sector systems to decide things about our lives, it is essential that anyone studying computer science also receives a good grounding in ethics and social responsibility.

“Many people who have not studied computer science are involved in the design, delivery, implementation, running and assurance of computer systems. They should all be appropriately qualified and independently accredited.”