On Tuesday, 6 February, the UK Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) published its response to the consultation on its pro-innovation approach to artificial intelligence (AI) regulation.
In its response, the government reiterates that "combining cross-sectoral principles and a context-specific framework, international leadership and collaboration, and voluntary measures on developers" is the right overall approach but that the "challenges posed by AI technologies will ultimately require legislative action in every country once understanding of risk has matured."
To this extent, the government explains that some mandatory measures will be required in every jurisdiction as the impact of AI systems on society advances. Rather than stifle innovation, the government explains that it will legislate when it is confident that it is the right thing to do.
Later in the year, the government will launch activities to support regulator capabilities and coordination through a new steering committee alongside further consultations on the cross-economy AI risk register to assess the regulatory framework. Furthermore, the government will address electoral interference, discrimination, intellectual property law, biosecurity and other AI alignment issues. They will also continue to lead international conversations on AI governance ahead of the next AI Safety Summit in the Republic of Korea and France.
In addition to the consultation response, the government has also launched a new £10 million initiative to jumpstart regulators' AI capabilities and a £9 million partnership with the US on responsible AI.
In its legal analysis, Pinsent Masons Legal Director Sarah Cameron writes that "The government’s non-statutory context-based approach to AI regulation stands in stark contrast to the broad risk-based approach to AI regulation being pursued under the EU AI Act, which businesses operating in the UK will need to familiarise themselves with too if operating on a cross-border basis."
Meanwhile, in an article in The Guardian, the Ada Lovelace Institute warned that the government should not wait for a Post Office-style AI scandal before moving to regulate the technology. Associate director of the institute, Michael Birtwistle, said: "There is a very real risk that further delay on legislation could leave the UK powerless to prevent AI risks – or even to react effectively after the fact."
Additional commentary on the consultation response is available in The Guardian.
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