NEWS7 February 2024

UK invests £100m in AI and calls for ‘agile’ regulation

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UK – The UK government has put £100m funding into artificial intelligence (AI) research and opted for an ‘agile’ approach to regulating the technology as part of its response to the AI regulation white paper consultation.

Downing Street

The government said that it would not rush to legislate, or risk implementing ‘quick-fix’ rules that would soon become outdated or ineffective in tackling AI, but argued a context-based approach would mean existing regulators are empowered to address AI risks in a targeted way.

As a result, the government said that £10m would be put aside to prepare and train regulators in various industries to address the risks and harms of AI, as well as harnessing the opportunities and benefits of using the technology.

The funding will help regulators develop research and tools to monitor and address AI risks in their sectors, with key regulators, including Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority, asked to publish their approach to managing the technology by 30th April.

Binding requirements could also be introduced for developers building the most advanced AI systems to make sure the technologies are sufficiently safe.

The announcements follow the publication of the AI regulation white paper last March, laid the foundations for the UK’s approach to regulating AI, and has followed a period of consultation on the paper’s proposals.

In its response, the UK said that a further £90m would go towards launching nine new research hubs across the UK and a partnership with the US on responsible AI.

The hubs will support using the technology across areas including healthcare, chemistry and mathematics.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) will use £2m of the funding to support new research projects that will help to define what responsible AI looks like across sectors such as education, policing and the creative industries.

The government said that £19m will also go towards 21 projects to develop responsible AI and machine learning tools to accelerate deployment of these technologies and drive productivity.

The £19m will be funded through the Accelerating Trustworthy AI Phase 2 competition, supported through the UKRI Technology Missions Fund and delivered by the Innovate UK BridgeAI programme.

There will be £9m invested through the government’s International Science Partnerships Fund, bringing together researchers and innovators in the UK and the US to focus on developing safe, responsible and trustworthy AI.

The government will also be launching a steering committee in spring to support and guide the activities of a formal regulator coordination structure within government in the spring.

The latest £100m funding also follows the UK government’s £100m investment last year in the world’s first AI Safety Institute, which evaluates the risks of new AI models, and hosting the world’s first major summit on AI safety at Bletchley Park in November 2023.

Secretary of state for science, innovation and technology Michelle Donelan said: “The UK’s innovative approach to AI regulation has made us a world leader in both AI safety and AI development.

“I am personally driven by AI’s potential to transform our public services and the economy for the better – leading to new treatments for cruel diseases like cancer and dementia, and opening the door to advanced skills and technology that will power the British economy of the future.

“AI is moving fast, but we have shown that humans can move just as fast. By taking an agile, sector-specific approach, we have begun to grip the risks immediately, which in turn is paving the way for the UK to become one of the first countries in the world to reap the benefits of AI safely.”