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UK sets out sector-specific AI regulation

AI regulation
Image credit: michelledonelan.co.uk

The government has said it will take a sector-by-sector approach to AI regulation to “turbocharge” growth while ensuring “responsible” use by businesses.

The proposed regulations will cover all types of AI, including generative AI models such as ChatGPT. In a new white paper from the recently established Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, the government offered five principles that it expects regulators to follow when looking at how companies and developers are using AI.

These principles are safety, transparency from AI developers, fairness to ensure new technology complies with existing UK law, accountability for the outcomes of the way AI is used, and contestability to provide people with the opportunity to dispute harmful AI decisions.

The white paper said that over the next 12 months, regulators will “issue practical guidance to organisations” to determine how to implement these principles. The paper also said that legislation may be introduced “when parliamentary time allows”.

Instead of giving regulatory control to one body, the government will give powers to existing regulators to take an “adaptable” approach to their sector. Existing regulatory bodies include the Health and Safety Executive, Equality and Human Rights Commission and Competition and Markets Authority.

“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,” said DSIT boss Michelle Donelan.

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

Responding to the approach, Lila Ibrahim, COO and UK AI council member, DeepMind, said: “This transformative technology can only reach its full potential if it is trusted, which requires public and private partnership in the spirit of pioneering responsibly.

“The UK’s proposed context-driven approach will help regulation keep pace with the development of AI, support innovation and mitigate future risks.”

The government has expressed its goal of using AI, along with other promising tech sectors, to achieve its science superpower goal. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s recent Spring Statement speech included several references to supporting AI, including increased funding and an annual innovation competition.