Artificial Intelligence

The UK Government recently announced a new sector deal for Artificial Intelligence.

As it stands, aspects of the announcement pose both a credible risk to business, with the potential of long-lasting damage to the sector, as well as an opportunity to give some a leading role in influencing the direction of future policy. Two such initiatives outlined in the deal are the establishment of a new Office for Artificial Intelligence and an Artificial Intelligence Council. They will both have powers to oversee and steer the implementation of legislation, as well as regulate and initiate policy.

The Government plans to consult industry, but the potential of these initiatives to dramatically impact the sector should not be underestimated. Additionally, the Government has also announced new funding available for Artificial Intelligence businesses with the aim to encourage the growth and development of the sector.

Chelgate has been involved in the technology sector for over two decades during which time we have built extensive connections throughout Parliament and within Government. We have worked on many programmes to help our clients secure funding and recognition with key decision makers, delivering results that secured their business priorities. We believe that it is crucially important for business to engage with Government from the earliest opportunity to ensure that their interests are protected. This is particularly the case as we move to become a more ‘global Britain’.

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The UK debate on Artificial Intelligence

Policymakers are hawkishly eying-up opportunities to change the law, the regulatory frameworks and available sanctions on artificial intelligence (AI) businesses.

Political campaigns and the use of data has sparked outrage and debate amongst society. The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has served assessment notices on eleven political parties, compelling them to agree to audits of their data protection policies and practices. This activity is all part of the year-long investigation into data analytics for political purposes by the ICO, which has focused on more than thirty organisations that play key roles in the electoral data ecosystem.

However, the politicians seeking to rebuild public confidence in an outdated electoral system is bad news for all AI businesses. Politicians are using recent events coupled with their own experiences as an excuse to argue for greater policy proposals and restrictions on AI, as well as the wider adoption of new technologies.

Such a narrow view being used as a catalyst for creating legislation does not reflect the breadth and complexity of the AI sector. Neither does it appreciate the promise and the wealth of good this sector is bringing to the wider economy – from education and health, to finance and retail. For example, this week saw DeepMind show how its technology uses data and algorithms to diagnose eye disease better than a doctor. Yet politicians, on the whole, remain closed-off from challenging any forthcoming restrictions.

The debate needs to change gear. Politicians lack technical and scientific expertise in these areas. This is evident as much of the rhetoric paints a future akin to an Orwellian dystopia. What is needed is an injection of sensible, rational dialogue seeking to establish how greater integration of AI in business and society could radically improve everyday life.

Decisions being made now will undoubtedly set the course for this fledgling sector for the next ten years or more. Arriving at these decisions through the prism of recent events will hinder competition in what is now a global race. Policymakers are running the risk of severely damaging this vibrant sector in its infancy. What is needed – and hastily – is a robust voice promoting AI.