UK Pushes for AI Authority, Calls for Urgent Govt. Action

Britain’s standing in the artificial intelligence (AI) world could be at stake, with a Conservative peer warning that the country could end up becoming inconsequential globally without fresh legislation to oversee the sector.

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Under a proposal put forth in Parliament by Lord Holmes of Richmond, a fresh entity known as the AI Authority would come to life.

His Artificial Intelligence (Regulation) Bill, set for a second reading debate come Friday, would task this new authority with the mission to spearhead AI regulations in the UK and to keep tabs on and evaluate potential economic risks.

“Leadership and right-sized regulation is what’s needed, and it’s needed pronto,” he stated.

The Bill insists that the AI Authority should consider principles like security, fairness, accountability, and transparency.

The Government’s current stance is that a non-legislative approach offers “essential flexibility,” though they’ve committed to reviewing this as needed.

Lord Holmes criticized the Government’s current strategy, saying, “The Government’s way of doing things right now might just let the UK fall into an irrelevance on the world stage. And this is about safeguarding the rights of citizens and making sure AI is built and used in ways that boost humanity, not break society apart.

The Government says their light regulatory touch is ‘pro-innovation’, but innovation doesn’t thrive on uncertainty and instability.

“AI’s got huge potential for our economy, for our society, and for us as humans.

“But if we don’t regulate it, it’s also got some pretty scary downsides. Self-regulation and just making promises isn’t enough.

“We need leaders to step up with the right regulation, and we need it yesterday.

“The UK’s got a chance to be at the forefront of ethical AI.

“This Bill is that chance. Let’s hope they grab it.”

The proposed Bill is also looking to make sure that anyone involved in AI training would have to hand over a record of any third-party data and IP they used to the authority, with proof that they got informed consent for its use.

On the idea of a labelling system, Lord Holmes mentioned, “People would have a heads up if AI was used or deployed in making a service or product.”

Last November, Rishi Sunak spoke about Britain’s AI safety summit, saying it could “tip the scales towards humanity” after getting tech firms to agree to check their AI models before launching them.

The Prime Minister suggested that “binding requirements” might be needed to regulate tech, but also emphasized the need for swift action even without laws in place.

Elon Musk, who owns the social media platform X, has called AI “one of the biggest threats” to humankind.

This past February, the Government disclosed plans to pour over £100 million into prepping the UK for AI regulation and safe use of the tech, which includes equipping regulators from various sectors with the needed skills.

Ministers have opted to task existing regulatory bodies with monitoring AI in their respective areas instead of setting up a new, unified regulator for this burgeoning tech.

A Government spokesman mentioned, “As usual, the Government’s take on this Bill will be laid out during the debate.”

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