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February AI Update – UK White Paper 2024

AI Update – UK White Paper – February 2024

The UK Government anticipates adopting legislation regulating the development and use of Artificial Intelligence – but not any time soon, according to the government’s latest AI policy paper, issued on 6  February.

The paper, a consultation response to last year’s AI White Paper, reports that the government’s approach to regulation remains as envisioned in the White Paper and maintains its view of creating an innovation-friendly landscape. Under the proposals, there will be a decentralised approach to regulation, by which existing regulators (such as the Financial Condict Authority, Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office) will apply new principles on deploying AI within their respective sectors. These five key principles consist of:

  • safety, security and robustness;
  • appropriate transparency and explainability;
  • fairness;
  • accountability and governance; and
  • contestability and redress.

£10 million has been pledged to help regulators adapt and respond to the challenges posed by AI, although for the moment it seems no new powers will be granted to regulators to ensure compliance. The report states that various regulators have been encouraged to publish their strategic approach to AI by 30 April 2024, so we may soon have a more specific analysis of AI-related risks and their proposed approaches.

The report lists other initiatives for centralised regulatory functions including:

  • assembling a new multidisciplinary team within the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology which will monitor risks posed by AI across all sectors and evaluate the effectiveness of government and regulators’ actions;
  • launching a consultation on establishing a cross-economy AI risk register and risk management framework; and
  • establishing a steering committee with government representatives and key regulators to support knowledge exchange and coordination on AI governance by spring 2024.

On another front, the ramifications of AI on Intellectual Property owners have been a keen point of debate for many in recent months, especially amongst creators wary of widespread scraping of artworks by AI systems and the resultant simulacra of existing artistic and writing styles. Unfortunately, the statement reports that the Intellectual Property Office working group, intended to allow rights holders and AI developers to work together, has been unable to agree an effective voluntary code. This would seemingly leave the issue in limbo albeit with an assurance that the government recognises the importance of ensuring AI development supports, rather than undermines, human creativity.

The notably non-statutory approach is in contrast to the EU, as on 13 February the European Parliament committees on civil liberties and consumer protection approved the current draft of the AI Act. A legislative assembly vote is scheduled for April, allowing the possibility the act could become EU law this year.

Sourced from:

The act sets requirements for AI developers based on the power of the system and the purpose for which the system is used – so AI systems used in healthcare would be subject to more stringent requirements than those used for general commerce, for example. Developers will also need to comply with transparency obligations, disclosing the data used to train the system, and the results of testing if they want to adhere to this potential new EU AI legislation.

The UK government seems conscious of comparison to the very different approach being taken by the EU, with their report pointedly stating that in time some mandatory measures will eventually be required across all jurisdictions, but legislating prematurely would be at the cost of potential technological progress and the ability to adapt quickly to emerging risks.

Which is the right approach to take in a world in which AI is advancing rapidly and having ever more important tasks entrusted to it? Perhaps we should just ask Chat GPT.

Our latest AI Update was produced by Richard Wilkin. Please reach out to Richard for more information on AI, or find out more about how we can help you.

Disclaimer: This article is produced for and on behalf of White & Black Limited, which is a limited liability company registered in England and Wales with registered number 06436665. It is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The contents of this article should be viewed as opinion and general guidance, and should not be treated as legal advice.

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