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UK Risks Falling Behind EU and US in AI Regulation, Warn MPs

 |  September 4, 2023

The UK must introduce new legislation to control artificial intelligence or risk falling behind the EU and the US as they begin to set the pace for regulating the technology. This warning was issued by members of the House of Commons Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, who urged the government to accelerate its implementation of a regulatory regime for AI in the upcoming session of Parliament.

In March, the government published an AI whitepaper outlining its ‘adaptable’ and ‘pro-innovation’ approach to regulating AI. In addition, the government noted the need for any legislation to include ‘a statutory duty on our regulators requiring them to have due regard to the [five AI governance] principles’.

Sebastian Klovig Skelton, a member of the Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, had this to say: “We see a danger that if the UK does not bring in any new statutory regulation for three years it risks the government’s good intentions being left behind by other legislation – like the [European Union’s] AI Act – that could become the de facto standard and be hard to displace.” Greg Clark, Conservative chair of the committee, added: “If this is to be the first global AI summit then to have as many voices there as possible, I think would be beneficial. But it needs to be accompanied with a caveat that we don’t expect that some of the security aspects to be resolved at that level. Our recommendation would be that we need a more trusted forum for that.”

Related: UK’s AI Taskforce Has A New Head

The committee report on AI governance states that the AI white paper should be welcomed as an initial effort to engage with this complex task, but its proposed approach is already risking falling behind the pace of development of AI. It also lists twelve governance challenges for AI that must be addressed by policymakers and should guide the Bletchley summit, which will be attended by international governments, leading AI firms and researchers.

Greg Clark warns that if the government does not take action now, legislation may not be put in place until late 2025. A government spokesperson said the potential of AI should be harnessed ‘safely and responsibly’ and the forthcoming AI summit will address the threat of risks and harms from the technology. The spokesperson added that the white paper sets out a ‘proportionate and adaptable approach to regulation in the UK’.

The government has also established a foundation model task force, referring to the underlying technology for AI tools such as text or image generators, which will look at the safe development of AI models. It is clear that the UK must act quickly and introduce dedicated legislation for AI or else risk falling behind the EU and US in regulating the technology.

Source: Computer Weekly