NEWS16 April 2018

UK needs AI code of ethics, says Lords report

AI Data analytics News Privacy Technology UK

UK – The UK is in a strong position to become a world leader in the development of artificial intelligence (AI), but should establish a cross-sector ethical code of conduct, according to a report published by the House of Lords.

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The Lords’ select committee on artificial intelligence has recommended that a code of conduct be established to ensure an ethical approach to AI development across sectors.  

The committee’s five suggested principles for the code are:

  1. Artificial intelligence should be developed for the common good and benefit of humanity.
  2. Artificial intelligence should operate on principles of intelligibility and fairness.
  3. Artificial intelligence should not be used to diminish the data rights or privacy of individuals, families or communities.
  4. All citizens should have the right to be educated to enable them to flourish mentally, emotionally and economically alongside artificial intelligence.
  5. The autonomous power to hurt, destroy or deceive human beings should never be vested in artificial intelligence.

Publicly-held data should be made available to researchers and developers where possible, the report recommended. The paper cited the approach taken by Transport for London (TfL), which has released its data through a single point of access, available subject to terms and conditions and with controls on privacy.

The report expressed concerns over the lack of representation within the datasets currently being used to train AI systems, with more work needed to ensure data is representative of diverse populations and not biased by researchers. To address this issue, it recommended that researchers and developers ensure data is pre-processed to be balanced and representative, that teams are diverse, and that data production engages all parts of society.

The report also recommended that the industry, through the AI Council, should establish a mechanism to inform consumers when AI is being used to make significant or sensitive decisions.

Lord Clement-Jones, the chairman of the committee, 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."