UK Lords committee says generic things about AI

A UK parliamentary committee on artificial intelligence has concluded we should try to do good things with it, and not bad things.

Politicians all over the world are keen to be seen to on top of the latest technological trends, ever more so since everyone started freaking out over political campaigning over social media. We get regular virtue-signalling from UK politicians on telecoms stuff such as fibre and 5G and now they’ve decided to show how all over AI they are.

There is, believe it or not, an entire Lords Select Committee devoted to AI, which seems designed mainly to keep a wary eye on it and make sure we don’t suddenly have Terminators, or at least HAL (see below) sneaking up on us while we were worrying about Brexit or whatever. It went off and commissioned a report designed to give us some top tips to avoid cybergeddon.

These have been distilled down into five principles:

  1. Artificial intelligence should be developed for the common good and benefit of humanity.
  2. Artificial intelligence should operate on principles of intelligibility and fairness.
  3. Artificial intelligence should not be used to diminish the data rights or privacy of individuals, families or communities.
  4. All citizens should have the right to be educated to enable them to flourish mentally, emotionally and economically alongside artificial intelligence.
  5. The autonomous power to hurt, destroy or deceive human beings should never be vested in artificial intelligence.

So, in summary, AI should be good and fair, and not bad and unfair. The UK can now rest easy that our politicians are on the case and won’t stand for any nonsense from robots and computers and that. Anyone who tries any AI funny business will have a small group of aristocrats and veteran politicians to answer to from now on. Praise the Lords!

“The UK has a unique opportunity to shape AI positively for the public’s benefit and to lead the international community in AI’s ethical development, rather than passively accept its consequences,” said the Chairman of the Committee, Lord Clement-Jones.

“The UK contains leading AI companies, a dynamic academic research culture, and a vigorous start-up ecosystem as well as a host of legal, ethical, financial and linguistic strengths. We should make the most of this environment, but it is essential that ethics take centre stage in AI’s development and use.

“AI is not without its risks and the adoption of the principles proposed by the Committee will help to mitigate these. An ethical approach ensures the public trusts this technology and sees the benefits of using it. It will also prepare them to challenge its misuse.

“We want to make sure that this country remains a cutting-edge place to research and develop this exciting technology. However, start-ups can struggle to scale up on their own. Our recommendations for a growth fund for SMEs and changes to the immigration system will help to do this.

“We’ve asked whether the UK is ready willing and able to take advantage of AI. With our recommendations, it will be.”

There is, thankfully, more depth to the study than just those five comically generic principles. The full paper – AI in the UK: ready, willing and able? – can be accessed here. It is, of course, right that we’re keeping a close eye on AI, but it’s hard to see how this report alone will protect us from the many potential dangers of sentient, self-aware machines.


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