UK Parliamentary Committee Urges Government to Prioritize AI Regulation for Global Leadership
A UK parliamentary committee has called on the government to prioritize the regulation of artificial intelligence (AI) in order to maintain global leadership in the field. The committee, which is investigating the opportunities and challenges posed by AI, warned that the government’s current approach is risking falling behind the pace of AI development. Committee chair Greg Clark stated that the government needs to act with greater urgency and introduce legislation to govern AI if it wants to establish the UK as an AI safety hub.
The government has not yet confirmed whether AI-specific legislation will be included in the November King’s Speech, making this the last opportunity before the General Election for the UK to legislate on AI governance. The committee is calling for the introduction of a tightly-focused AI Bill in the coming months, stating that without new statutory regulation, other legislation, such as the EU AI Act, could become the de facto standard and be difficult to displace.
This is not the first time concerns have been raised about the government’s delay in introducing AI legislation. The Ada Lovelace Institute released a report last month highlighting the contradictions within the government’s approach. While it aims to position the UK as a global hub for AI safety research, it has proposed no new AI governance laws and is actively pushing to deregulate existing data protection rules, which the Institute believes undermines its AI safety agenda.
In March, the government outlined a pro-innovation approach to regulating AI based on flexible principles rather than new legislation. However, MPs are concerned about the risks and opportunities presented by AI technology and believe that leaving AI governance in the hands of overburdened regulatory bodies without new powers or duties is inadequate.
The interim report by the Science, Innovation, and Technology Committee lists twelve AI governance challenges that policymakers must address, including bias, privacy, misrepresentation, explainability, intellectual property rights, liability for harms, and data access. The report also emphasizes the need for international coordination in AI governance and acknowledges the existential concerns raised by some technologists regarding the potential threat of AI superintelligence.
While the committee’s interim report provides a comprehensive analysis of AI challenges, its members have expressed doubts about the government’s understanding of the topic. The report recommends that existing regulators be given due regard duties in the AI Bill as a priority.
The Ada Lovelace Institute’s report also calls for a gap analysis of UK regulators to assess their resourcing and capacity, as well as their need for new powers to implement and enforce the principles outlined in the government’s AI white paper.
The committee concludes that the UK has the potential to be a global leader in AI development and deployment, but this opportunity is limited without the establishment of proper governance frameworks and a leading role in international initiatives. It urges the government to accelerate the establishment of an AI governance regime and introduce any necessary statutory measures.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently visited Washington to rally support for an AI safety summit that his government announced for the autumn. However, critics argue that the regulation and governance talking points of US AI giants primarily focus on future risks rather than addressing current AI harms. They believe that these companies lobby for self-serving regulation to maintain their dominance in the market.
In its response, the Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology highlighted the enormous potential of AI and the UK’s commitment to harnessing it safely and responsibly. The UK is hosting a global summit on AI safety in November and has outlined a proportionate and adaptable approach to AI regulation in its white paper. The government also plans to review and adapt its approach as the field of AI continues to evolve.
In conclusion, the UK parliamentary committee warns that the government’s delay in introducing AI legislation puts the country at risk of falling behind in the global AI race. The committee calls for urgent action to establish an AI governance regime and ensure the UK’s leadership in AI development and deployment. With AI becoming increasingly prevalent in society, it is crucial to have proper regulations in place to address the challenges and harness the potential of this transformative technology.