Government Racing To Meet "Exponential" Pace Of AI Technology Development
Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan (Alamy)
Developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) policy that can keep up with the rapid pace of the technology's development will be a major priority in new government plans to address it, PoliticsHome understands.
A government white paper on AI is expected on Wednesday, and could provide a first hint as to how the technology could be regulated in the UK.
The prevalence of AI has increased rapidly in recent years, with programmes like ChatGPT – an artificial intelligence chatbot which generates conversations or text from prompts provided by users – now regularly accessed by the public.
Ahead of the paper's publication, a government source told PoliticsHome that policy would need to address a pace of change in the technology that has seen more progress made in recent months than in previous years, with growth at an “exponential pace”.
“The trick has been trying to find a framework that is really adaptable to the pace of change,” they added.
A tech industry figure welcomed the government's attention to the issue, and said that while the sector knows “AI does present risks, as well as opportunities,” clearly laid out rules would give more freedom and confidence.
“We need regulation to provide the foundation on which innovation can take place, but also at the same time ensuring that people are confident and trust in AI to mitigate any harms that there might be,” they told PoliticsHome.
“Regulation can help innovation by providing certainty and clarity and actually a lot of the time businesses do want clear rules because they then know where they stand.”
Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan told The Sun that AI is “not something we should fear”.
"People should trust that computers which think and learn won’t be used to undermine their safety, their privacy, their rights or their health,” she said.
"We want to make sure that AI is complementing the way we work in the UK, not disrupting it – making our jobs better, rather than taking them away.”
In the national AI strategy published in September 2021, then-business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said that the impact the technology will have on the UK over the next decade will be “profound”.
“AI gives us new opportunities to grow and transform businesses of all sizes and capture the benefits of innovation right across the UK”, Kwarteng wrote at the time.
The document predicted that AI will “become mainstream” in much of the economy over the following decade and noted that “action will be required to ensure every sector and region of the UK benefit from this transition.”
Tomorrow’s expected white paper was promised last summer, by then-digital secretary, Nadine Dorries.
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