Report urges Government to adopt more positive vision of AI

The Government’s approach to AI and large language models (LLMs) has become “too focused on a narrow view of AI safety,” a House of Lords committee has said. 

The Digital and Communications Committee has published a report warning of a “real and growing” risk of regulations stifling the market. It states action must be taken to prioritise open competition and transparency, otherwise a small number of tech firms may rapidly consolidate control of the critical market and stifle new players.

The Committee described the potential of LLMS as “epoch defining” - comparable to the creation of the internet - but that a “more positive vision” is needed to reap the social and economic benefits. Key measures include more support for AI start-ups, boosting computing infrastructure, improving skills, and exploring options for an ‘in-house’ sovereign UK large language model.

The report also considered the risks around LLMs. It says that the apocalyptic concerns about threats to human existence are exaggerated and must not distract policy makers from responding to more immediate issues, for example cyber attacks and disinformation,.

There is also a need for Government to protect copyright holders from being exploited by LLM developers and to ensure that tech firms do not use data without permission.

Against this backdrop, the Committee has set out ten core recommendations. These include measures to boost opportunities, address risks, support effective regulatory oversight - including to ensure open competition and avoid market dominance by established technology giants - achieve the aims set out in the AI White Paper, introduce new standards, and resolve copyright disputes.

Proportionate and practical 

Baroness Stowell of Beeston, Chairman of the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee, said: “We need to address risks in order to be able to take advantage of the opportunities – but we need to be proportionate and practical. We must avoid the UK missing out on a potential AI goldrush.

“One lesson from the way technology markets have developed since the inception of the internet is the danger of market dominance by a small group of companies. The Government must ensure exaggerated predictions of an AI driven apocalypse, coming from some of the tech firms, do not lead it to policies that close down open-source AI development or exclude innovative smaller players from developing AI services.

"We must be careful to avoid regulatory capture by the established technology companies in an area where regulators will be scrabbling to keep up with rapidly developing technology.”

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