The UK Government unveils new approach to regulating AI

The UK Government has set out a new approach to regulating Artificial Intelligence (AI), in a white paper released by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology. 

The white paper outlines five principles that regulators should consider to best facilitate the use of AI in the industries they monitor. 

The plan is expected to help unleash the benefits of AI, which already contributes £3.7 billion to the UK economy, while protecting public privacy and human rights.

In a bid to avoid heavy-handed legislation that may prevent innovation, the government is allowing existing regulators - such as the Health and Safety Executive, Equality and Human Rights Commission and Competition and Markets Authority - to tailor approaches depending on how AI is being used in their sectors.

The five principles

The first principle is ensuring that applications of AI should function in a secure, safe and robust way where risks are carefully managed.

The second focuses on transparency and ensures that organisations developing and deploying AI should be able to communicate when and how it is used in an appropriate level of detail. 

The third is to ensure that AI is used in a way that complies with the UK’s existing laws and does not discriminate against individuals or create unfair commercial outcomes. 

Fourth is accountability and governance, which involves putting in place measures that offer appropriate oversight of the way AI is being used. 

Fifth is to ensure that there are clear routes to dispute harmful outcomes or decisions generated by AI. 

Over the next 12 months, regulators will issue practical guidance, tools and resources to organisations as a way to help implement these principles in their sectors. Down the line, legislation could be introduced to ensure regulators consider the principles consistently.

Unleashing the 'technology of tomorrow'

Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said: 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.

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

Organisations and individuals working with AI can share their views on the white paper as part of a new consultation. 

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