Safeguarding the Future:
A Call for Ethical AI Development and Regulation.
The UK government’s White Paper on AI, released in March 2023, aims to make the UK “the best place in the world to build, test and use AI technology”. The European Commission’s approach also seeks to make the EU “a world-class hub for AI”. The race is on! The competition for AI dominance is intense, with concerns raised about the potential dangers of high-functionality AI. So much so that the Future of Life Institute, with notable signatories like Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, published an open letter urging a six-month pause on high-functionality AI development. The goal is to provide time for global deliberation on how to ensure AI’s positive impact on humanity, emphasizing the need for responsible development to prevent potential harm.
Opinions differ on how close we are to developing sentient or ‘super intelligent’ AI. Nonetheless, the potential for AI to transform society is widely acknowledged, and various countries are attempting to develop ethical frameworks for AI regulation.
The European Commission proposed the Artificial Intelligence Act in 2021, which outlines a framework for governing AI in the EU. In contrast, the UK has taken a different approach, favouring a principles-based, sector-focused, and regulator-led approach rather than an umbrella legislation with multiple definitions.
The UK has been focusing on AI for some time, with initiatives such as the Alan Turing Institute and the National AI Strategy. The UK’s AI White Paper published in March 2023 emphasizes a non-statutory guidance approach, relying on existing regulators like the FCA, ICO and CMA to develop sector-specific principles for AI governance.
Concerns about the effectiveness and coherence of this approach have been raised, as different regulators may produce contradictory guidance, and enforcement might be challenging without specific AI laws. Nonetheless, the UK government plans to monitor the effectiveness of its policy and may introduce legislation in the future if necessary.
There is ongoing debate about which approach is more successful— the top-down approach of the EU’s AI Act or the UK’s lighter touch approach. Ultimately, a global consensus on AI regulation would be ideal, but achieving that is considered challenging in the current geopolitical climate.