NEWS29 March 2023

UK government outlines AI regulation

AI News Public Sector UK

UK – The government has set out how it plans to regulate artificial intelligence, saying it will ‘avoid heavy-handed regulation’ and will not set up a dedicated AI regulator.

corner of whitehall and downing street

The government wants to split responsibility for AI between existing watchdogs, including the Health and Safety Executive, Equality and Human Rights Commission and Competition and Markets Authority, who will be charged with coming up tailored approaches for their specific sectors.

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology has produced a white paper on the plans, set to be published in full later today ( 29th March).

The government’s plans will aim to “drive responsible innovation and maintain public trust in this revolutionary technology”, according to a press release on the publication.

The UK will “avoid heavy-handed legislation which could stifle innovation”, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology said, and take what it called “an adaptable approach to regulating AI”.

The white paper covers five principles regulators should consider, which are: safety, security and robustness; transparency and ‘explainability’; fairness; accountability and governance; and contestability and redress.

Conversations about the regulation of AI have intensified in recent months since the development of ChatGPT and other large language models that allow for the creation of AI-generated content, raising questions over ethics, misinformation, privacy and plagiarism, as well as implications for the labour market.

The government claims its approach to regulation means that the UK’s rules will be able to adapt as AI technology developments, and protect the public “without holding businesses back from using AI technology”.

As part of the white paper, the government is consulting on new processes that it hopes will improve coordination between regulators and evaluate the existing AI framework.

Regulators will also issue specific guidance, tools and resources including risk assessment templates for organisations and businesses “over the next 12 months”.

Science, innovation and technology secretary Michelle Donelan said: “AI has the potential to make Britain a smarter, healthier and happier place to live and work. Artificial intelligence is no longer the stuff of science fiction, and the pace of AI development is staggering, so we need to have rules to make sure it is developed safely.

“Our new approach is based on strong principles so that people can trust businesses to unleash this technology of tomorrow.”

Sue Daley, director for tech and innovation at TechUK, said: “TechUK welcomes the much-anticipated publication of the UK’s AI white paper and supports its plans for a context-specific, principle-based approach to governing AI that promotes innovation. The government must now prioritise building the necessary regulatory capacity, expertise, and coordination.

TechUK stands ready to work alongside government and regulators to ensure that the benefits of this powerful technology are felt across both society and the economy.”