UK to Shape Standards in Artificial Intelligence

The U.K. government has launched a new AI Standard Hub as part of its National AI Strategy that will aim to increase the U.K. contribution to development of global AI technical standards. 

The new AI Standard Hub will create practical tools for businesses to develop AI systems, bring together the AI community through a new online platform and develop educational materials to help organizations develop and benefit from global standards. 

“It marks the first step in delivering our new National AI Strategy, and will develop the tools needed so organizations and consumers can benefit from all the opportunities of AI. We want the U.K. to lead the world in developing AI standards,” said Chris Philp, Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy. 

The Hub will also work to improve the governance of AI, complement innovation regulation and unlock the potential of these technologies. After the U.K. left the European Union, the new EU legislation is no longer applicable in the U.K., including the proposed EU regulation on Artificial Intelligence. In view of this opportunity to reshape its legal framework, the country designed a National AI Strategy, a ten-year plan to strengthen the country’s position in AI. 

The Hub initiative will kick off with a pilot phase focusing on growing engagement to develop global AI standards and to bring the AI community together through workshops, events and training sessions. 

Despite not being a superpower in artificial intelligence like the U.S. and China, the U.K. has designed a very comprehensive plan to develop an AI ecosystem to attract investment. According to data from the U.K. government, in 2020 U.K. businesses spent around GBP 63 billion on AI technology and AI related-labor — and this is expected to reach more than GBP 200 billion by 2040. 

The U.K. is already working on new regulation to enable better data availability in the wider economy. For instance, last week, Google, Mastercard, Microsoft and nearly two dozen other companies launched the International Data Transfer Expert Council as part of the U.K. government’s plan to unlock the benefits of free and secure data sharing. 

Read More: UK Launches Panel to Promote Data Flow 

In the next six months, the U.K. is expected to roll out other initiatives from this National AI Strategy.  Before summer, the U.K. will publish a white paper on how to govern and regulate AI to ensure a pro-innovation regime. It will also complete an in-depth analysis on algorithmic transparency with a view to developing a cross-government standard. 

In a longer timeframe — more than 12 months — the U.K. government is planning to design a more ambitious plan including a new approach to semiconductor supply chains, work with international partners to share R&D challenges and work on international standards and monitoring foreign investment to protect national security. 

“It’s imperative the U.K. remains at the forefront of this transformative technology which is already improving our lives and has huge potential to create new jobs and wealth.” said Mr. Philp. 

While the U.K. may be falling behind its European partners in regulating artificial intelligence technology for the time being, this may quickly change. This is because the U.K., unlike most of the European countries, can now design a complete legal framework including data, safety concerns, privacy and national security considerations without delegating part of these legal attributions to a supra-national regulator. In the European Union, the European Commission has proposed the Artificial Intelligence Act in an attempt to harmonize the different national legal frameworks. However, given the sensitive nature of some provisions and the implications for future investment in the 27 member states, this regulation is expected to be subject to a number of amendments and the path for approval will be lengthy.  

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UK Seeks Its Place to Shape Global Standards in Artificial Intelligence

Steve Liem

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